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Work begins on Amtrak train stop for Holyoke

Date: 4/17/2012

April 18, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — Mayor Alex Morse wants the city to be ready when Amtrak begins running a north-south passenger route through the city and announced last week the release of a Request for Qualifications for the design of the rail platform.

Morse explained to Reminder Publications that the city will not have, at least at this time, an actual station, but rather a platform on which the trains can take on and discharge passengers.

The platform will be close to the original rail station that was designed by famed architect H.H. Richardson. Morse believes that once train service begins in the city, that building will find a new use, perhaps as a restaurant.

The city has not had any rail service for the past 26 years. Holyoke will be using a portion of its Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant, Catalytic Project sub-grant to complete the design in time for the return of rail service by late next year.

Amtrak's Vermonter train travels from St. Albans, Vt., through to Washington, D.C. In the the Pioneer Valley the train presently stops in Springfield and Pelham. The new route would be more direct and restore stops in Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield. According to information supplied by Amtrak, the re-routing will service a greater population and cut almost an hour from the length of the trip

This summer will mark the start of improvements to the rail line.

Morse sees a passenger stop in downtown as another step toward the redevelopment of the area.

"The rail stop returning to Holyoke is a critical component of our revitalization strategy and I am committed to ensuring that this project is a success. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Massachusetts Department of Transportation to complete this project as well as the others in this district, including the Canalwalk and the Transit Connections Infrastructure Project," Morse said.

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