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Valley Flyer Train Service Makes Inaugural Run

New train service called the Valley Flyer started Friday morning in western Massachusetts. It runs between Greenfield and Springfield, with stops in Northampton and Holyoke.

Bob Gruber, a professor at Springfield College, boarded in Northampton and said he was taking the train to work.

"I teach environmental ethics," he said. "I don't want to be driving individually all the way down. I'm on [Interstate] 91. I see all these people just alone in their cars, and I feel like that's not the right approach for people that have to commute to work. I think trains would be great if we could get more people to take the train."

One hurdle to getting more commuters to ride may be the fares. A round-trip ticket from Greenfield to Springfield costs $36, though Amtrak just announced a 25% discount on Valley Flyer fares for travel through October 31. 

The new service offers two trains in each direction seven days a week. On weekdays, the southbound trains, both in the morning, continue to New Haven. The northbound trains, both at night, originate in New Haven. The schedule is different on weekends.

This service is on top of the existing Vermonter service, which has one train daily in each direction.

Jeff Wagenheim, an editor for ESPN, boarded in Northampton. He said he planned to go to New Haven and connect to a train for New York City so he could attend a meeting.

"Just conveniently, it happened to fall on the day that this first train was riding down there, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to jump on to it," he said. "Getting here at 6:00 in the morning, while that can be difficult, it means I get to the city before 10:30, which is a great thing."

State Representative Lindsay Sabadosa of Northampton also rode the train this morning.

"This is a pilot service, so we only have two years to prove that the valley really does want train service," she said.

Sabadosa and other lamwakers have said there need to be 24,000 new riders each year for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to continue funding the Valley Flyer beyond the fall of 2021. 

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.
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