CTrail, Amtrak plan for possible traffic surge with casino opening

RELATED TOPICS: TRANSIT | COMMUTER RAILROADS | AMTRAK | NORTHEAST
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A CTrail train pauses in Hartford, Conn., prior to the start of service in June.
Scott A. Hartley

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Amtrak and the CTrail commuter-train service have contingency plans in place if this week’s opening of a new casino in Springfield generates more passenger traffic.

The MGM Springfield casino, with a 252-room hotel, high-end shops and dining, a luxury movie theater, a bowling alley, and other features, as well as gambling, is set to open Friday, Aug. 24.

The Springfield Republican reports that two possible methods of handling a surge in crowds are in place. One, the Hartford Line, which features two-car Amtrak trains as well as CTrail’s four-car trainsets, could increase capacity by switching to the CTrail equipment for all trains. Two, CTrail has a contract with bus companies in place to provide bus transit, if needed, between Hartford and Springfield, allowing rail passengers to use trains that normally begin or end in Hartford.

Officials are expecting increased ridership, although they have no way of knowing for sure, since passengers can buy their tickets immediately before boarding.

"I think we will see a surge in Springfield ridership," Rich Andreski, bureau chief for public transportation at the Connecticut Department of Transportation, told the paper. "We are going to keep an eye on it."

The CTrail service debuted in June. Combined with Amtrak service, it offers 12 round trips on weekdays between New Haven and Springfield, with five others that terminate in Hartford. [See “Connecticut, Massachusetts officials celebrate CTRail startup,” Trains News Wire, June 15, 2018.] Saturday offers eight round trips to Springfield and four others to Hartford, with an additional Springfield round trip on Sundays.

The newspaper’s full report is available here.

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