Amtrak’s Vermonter on New England Central

Federal Street in Belchertown, May 25, 2014.

Vermonter_at_Federal_Street_1_P1020522

Amtrak train 57, the southward Vermonter rolls across Federal Street in Belchertown, Massachusetts on May 25, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7.
Amtrak train 57, the southward Vermonter rolls across Federal Street in Belchertown, Massachusetts on May 25, 2014. Exposed with a Lumix LX-7.

Since 1995, Amtrak’s Vermonter has operated via Palmer and Amherst, Massachusetts. This requires a 13-mile jog over CSX’s former Boston & Albany from Springfield to Palmer, where the train reverses direction and heads north on New England Central’s former Central Vermont main line.

Presently, Pan Am Southern’s former Boston & Maine Connecticut River Line is being upgraded between Springfield and the Massachusetts-Vermont Stateline at East Northfield. This will allow a restoration of passenger service to the traditional route north of Springfield.

The Vermonter is expected to switch to the former B&M routing via Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield by the end of this year. As a result, I’ve been making photographs of Amtrak’s train at various places between Palmer and East Northfield, while the service still operates that way.

Several years ago, my late friend Bob Buck and I, were following a northward New England Central freight. Bob had been making photos on the Central Vermont since steam days.

We were just a few minutes ahead of the freight as we passed Belchertown.

We turned on Route 9 toward Amherst. After a couple of minutes Bob pointed, ‘take a left, there on Federal Street.’ We found the tracks and I made a photo of Bob rolling the freight by the crossing.

It was here I chose to capture the Vermonter, while I still can.

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