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Rail Users' Network Annual Meeting / Public Forum

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Please join us at the Rail Users' Network’s Annual Meeting / Public Forum taking place at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Offices at 60 Congress Street in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. This free exciting event co-sponsored by the PVPC is taking place on Saturday, October 13, 2018 from Noon to 5 pm. It will highlight the efforts underway which have already led to the expansion of passenger rail service between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts as well as the proposed pilot program to offer additional service along the northern end of the Knowledge Corridor from Springfield to Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield, Massachussetts starting in 2019. The program will also focus on the ongoing effort to establish seasonal rail service called the Berkshire Flyer from Pittsfield, Mass. to New York City and the East-West Passenger Rail study that is currently underway.

The program will begin at high noon with a brief RUN business meeting to elect board members with opening remarks given by the organization’s chair, Richard Rudolph who will talk about some of the challenges that rail advocates are currently facing across North America.

The public forum will start with U.S. Congressman Richard Neal (invited) and Massachusetts State Senator Eric Lessor who will be on hand to greet attendees as well as give welcoming remarks. John Bernick, Assistant Rail Administrator for Rail Design, Construction and Maintenance of Way at CT. DOT will provide an overview of the new CT Hartford Line. He is responsible for managing engineering and construction activities on Connecticut’s entire rail infrastructure and has direct oversight of the expansion of the regional rail service on the Hartford Line between New Haven and Springfield. Jim Redeker, Connecticut’s DOT Commissioner (invited) will focus his remarks on transit oriented development which is already taking place along the line in Wallingford, Windsor and Windsor Locks. He expects more economic development will follow as people discover the high-speed train service and developers will respond with housing and other projects near stations. Tim Brennan, Executive Director, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission will talk about the new pilot program which will begin in 2019 to expand rail passenger service along the Northern End of the Knowledge Corridor to serve residents and visitors in Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield, Mass.

After a short refreshment break, Thomas Matuszko, AICP, Executive Director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will describe plans underway for the start up of a new seasonal weekend service called the Berkshire Flyer. He is the co-chair of the subcommittee of the Berkshire Working Group which will is planning to hold a series of meetings to develop a marketing strategy, identify private partnerships and to address last mile issues. The new service which is scheduled to start up in 2020 will operate from Pittsfield, Massachusetts to Albany / Rennesseler and then to New York City. Jennifer Slesinger, Project Manager, MassDOT will provide an update on the East-West Passenger Rail Study - Boston to Pittsfield, MA. which is currently underway. Finally, Karen Chirstensen, President, The Train Campaign and Ben Heckscher, Co-Founder, Trains in The Valley will also be on hand to talk about passenger rail advocacy in the Berkshires and in the Connecticut River Valley.

In keeping with our shared vision and past precedents, time will also be set aide so that attendees can share their ideas about how passenger rail services can be improved. Andrew Albert, Vice-Chair of RUN and Chair of the Permanent Advisory Committee to the MTA will give closing remarks.

We look forward to seeing you in Springfield, Mass - the Urban, Economic, and Cultural Capital of Massachusetts' Connecticut River Valley. For those coming by train there are a couple of options to take a CT Train or Amtrak shuttle that will get you to Springfield in the morning in time to have a late breakfast or early lunch. It’s a short ten minute walk from the rail station to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission office at 60 Congress Street. Tickets can be purchased at the CT vending machines in the station –the one way fare is $12.75 and Amtrak accept CT rail Hartford Line tickets onboard all Amtrak’s Regional and Shuttle trains except the Vermonter. Customers may also purchase CT Rail Hartford Line tickets from Metro-North Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) as a connecting service to/from New Haven Line trains. On the Metro-North TVM, select your New Haven Line destination station (New Haven) and then add the UniTicket (Connecting Services) option to select your Hartford Line destination station.

For those planning to drive there is free parking available outside the PVPC office. Questions can be answered via email sent to rrudolph1022@gmail.com.

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