The re-opening of Boston & Maine’s Connecticut River line as the ‘Knowledge Corridor’ passenger route in December has made for a variety of new places to photograph Amtrak’s Vermonter that hadn’t had regular passenger trains in more than 25 years.
In conjunction with the rebuilding of the line was brush removal, especially around grade crossings, which have further expanded photographic potential of the Connecticut River route. In addition to Amtrak, Pan Am Southern’s freights also use the line.
Up to just a few months ago, the view of the line at North Hillside Road in South Deerfield was hemmed in by brush and trees, but now it’s cleared and open.
Pat Yough, Paul Goewey and I were out for the Vermonter on January 23, 2015, and I exposed this image of it racing southward toward its station stop at Northampton.
Here’s a diverse selection of images: December 29, 2014 saw the first public operation of Amtrak’s Vermonter on the traditional Connecticut River Line via Northampton and Greenfield, Massachusetts.
The trains were totally sold out in both directions. I made a host of digital photos and color slides of the event.
From Monday forward, the Vermonter will serve this more direct route, thus ending 25 years of passenger service on the Central Vermont/New England Central line via Amherst, Massachusetts. Back in July 1989, I made photos of the first Montrealer arriving in Amherst. Both days were historic, and preserved for posterity.
I was not alone; lots of cameras whirred away trackside!
Today (December 29, 2014) was Amtrak’s first day of public operation on the new ‘Knowledge Corridor’ (B&M Conn River Line to traditionalists). The train was sold out in both directions and hundreds of people came out to watch history in the making.
I had the opportunity to make a round trip on the line from Greenfield to Springfield. I met lots of old friends and met many new faces! Although I’m sad to see the train off the old Central Vermont route, I’m equally happy to be able to ride over the B&M Conn River once again!
This is just a preview of a photographically intense afternoon. (More to follow, soon!)
Today (Dec 19, 2014) Amtrak operated a test train north from Springfield, Massachusetts on Pan Am Southern’s recently rehabilitated Boston & Maine Connecticut River Line in preparation for re-routed Vermonter service (expected to begin at the end of this month).
My father and I went out to document this special move, then went over to the New England Central route to photograph the Vermonter on its present route.
Back in the 1980s, I’d buy my film at Frantek in South Hadley, and then return via Holyoke, where I’d almost always find the Boston & Maine switching. Back then the old Connecticut River line was busy with through and local trains.
On a typical day, there would be between three and four freights daily, plus the nocturnal Amtrak Montrealer.
Holyoke itself generated a fair amount of traffic, and the yard there was always full of cars. Pioneer Valley Railroad interchanged with B&M at the south end of the yard. During the day it wasn’t uncommon to find one of PVRR’s EMC SW1s or Alcos working Holyoke industrial trackage.
Sunday, June 22, 2014, I revisited Holyoke. The railway scene is very much changed from the 1980s. Most of the yard is gone, as are the majority of the customers it once served. The Montrealer hasn’t operated in decades, and the volume of mainline freight is now carried by Pan Am Railway’s lone symbol freights EDPL/PLED (East Deerfield, Massachusetts to Plainville, Connecticut).
Now, Holyoke is on the eve of rail revival. It will soon host a new station for the Knowledge Corridor, and in a few months time will be a stop on Amtrak’s re-routed Vermonter. Hopefully, an increase in freight traffic will soon follow.
The old mills and factories in Holyoke make for a fascinating post-industrial setting.