LSL Boston Section and Vermonter connection at Springfield

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by velotrain, Aug 10, 2019.

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  1. Aug 10, 2019 #1

    velotrain

    velotrain

    velotrain

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    I'm considering a trip using the LSL Boston section, the Vermonter and the Adirondack for some time later this year. I'd like to do it counter-clockwise, having just ridden on the Adirondack northbound.


    Checking the schedules I found something that really astounds me and thought it would be easier to get a truthful answer here than talking to Amtrak.


    The LSL schedule shows it arriving westbound (sorry, not used to using train numbers) in Springfield at 3:18 PM. However, the northbound Vermonter is shown leaving Springfield at 3:15 PM.


    Can this idiocy actually be true and if so why?
     
  2. Aug 10, 2019 #2

    lordsigma

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    lordsigma

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    It's annoyingly true. They are not setup to allow a connection which is annoying - the westbound 449 for the most part gets to Springfield reasonably on time most days and there are days when the Vermonters are running late and you have both Vermonters along with 449 at the station at the same time. I've never understood why they wont do the slight adjustment to make this connection possible. They even allow a connection from the eastbound (much more likely to be late) train with one of the Springfield shuttles, 479. Seems like the Vermonter would be a no brainer but they seem unwilling to bite. now if Mass moves forward with the possible SPG-BOS corridor maybe it will change.
     
  3. Aug 10, 2019 #3

    dogbert617

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    dogbert617

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    Unfortunately, yes it is true, assuming you wanted to take LSL west to Springfield, then Vermonter north. I agree it's idiotic, how Amtrak does their schedule as to not allow those to connect in Springfield, between #449 and #54/56.

    I would propose as a workaround for this scheduling flaw, that you should take something like the Peter Pan bus west from Boston South Station to Springfield, then take the Vermonter north. I know it's a bus and that you'd probably prefer to take a train, but it is a workaround that'd allow you to make the Vermonter connection on the same day. Not sure if there is any way to ticket a Boston to Springfield bus as some sort of Amtrak Thruway bus via Amtrak's website, or that you'd have to book your bus and train tickets on 2 different websites. Schedule, when I did a search on Peter Pan's website: https://webstore.peterpanbus.com/?d=&a=&t=0&ds=4999&as=5036&dd=8/27/2019&rd=&tfa=1

    Also it's funny that you mention that the scheduling doesn't allow for a west to north train connection between LSL and Vermonter, since this same problem also exists between LSL going west, and Adirondack going north. Weird how connecting on the same day between Adirondack and LSL(Adirondack to Schenctady southbound at 5:18, then LSL west at 7:33pm), and also Vermonter and LSL(Vermonter arriving at Springfield at 2:35, then LSL west at 3:18) only work if you're traveling south, then going west.

    ETA: I was partially wrong, that the Vermonter schedule only allowed for a westbound connection, after you arrived going south on Vermonter arriving into Springfield. I now see that a south to east connection, would work when relooking at both schedules(southbound Vermonter arrives in Springfield at 2:35pm, eastbound LSL arrives at 5:28pm). No wonder that I bet people who own a car, would probably rather drive from the Boston area west to Springfield to ensure they make that train from Springfield, if they had access to a car or knew someone who could loan them a car for the day. And assuming Springfield, had overnight parking available.
     
  4. Aug 10, 2019 #4

    bratkinson

    bratkinson

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    The problems with trying to make a 449 connection to any of the Vermonters north- or south bound are several.

    First and foremost, how much scheduled connection time to allow? 30 minutes? An hour? 90 minutes? What happens when 449 is several hours late like it's been earlier this week? Should Amtrak be on the hook to put up passengers for the night, feed them, and put them on tomorrows' train?

    OK, let's make connection time one hour, just to be safe. Doing that results in an hour later departure and arrival at Vermonter endpoints moving St Albans arrival to 9:50PM and Washington arrival at 11:08PM or 11:29PM. How many passengers want to arrive THAT late? How much would 1 hour later times along the NEC screw up Metro North, NJ Transit, Septa and MARC schedules? Even CTRail Hartford line schedules would need revision.

    OK, let's simply move the 449 schedule up an hour. That'll work? What about the schedule for 49 NYP-CHI? Move it all up an hour earlier? Buffalo passengers might like it, but then Empire service trains would need rescheduling too. Moving the schedule up an hour also gives Cleveland and Toledo passengers calling times that are beyond reasonable. I'd expect a 25-40% drop in CLE and TOL traffic as a result. And how about platform space at CUS during Metra rush hour?

    It would seem appropriate to paraphrase the movie 'War Games" at this point: The best solution is NO solution.

    Or...add an Inland Route train 2 hours earlier. ALL problems solved!
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
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  5. Aug 10, 2019 #5

    velotrain

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    Thanks to all.

    Bratkinson - I see your logic, but I'm still pissed.

    Dogbert - " this same problem also exists between LSL going west, and Adirondack going north ".

    I don't really see that as the same thing, as with the Vermonter it means catching it in the 'middle' of its daylight run, so it's Boston to Burlington in daylight. It's getting late by the time the LSL gets to Schenectady, and I'd have no interest in taking the Adirondack after dark. Would you really want to get woken up late at night for Customs and then get into Montreal at some impractical hour where you might need to pay for a hotel just to sleep part of the night?

    I'll take a bus if I do it; although I do hate them it means I don't need to drive both ways and pay for parking for several days. I might see if there is a bus to Northampton, which is generally a much more pleasant place to spend a few hours.

    Several decades ago a girlfriend and myself drove to a small country station north of Amherst? on the Friday before Columbus Day weekend, where I could park free for three days. We took the Vermonter with our bikes to Montpelier, where I had access to a casual ski lodge (electricity, but no running water). The next day we cycled to WRJ, and then B-boro, ending with a short day back to my van.

    There used to be a train from Boston to NYC via Hartford, but it appears to be (long?) gone. A 'wanderu' site seems to suggest that I'd need to take the NE Corridor to New Haven and then another train north - no thanks.
     
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  6. Aug 10, 2019 #6

    JP1822

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    The last "inland NE Regional" that Amtrak clung to before discontinuing it had the train leaving Boston mid-morning so that it connected with the northbound Vermonter at Springfield. There was like an hour layover - wasn't too long, but long enough. Some variations of the Lake Shore Limited's schedule over the years still allowed for the westbound LSL to connect with the northbound Vermonter. Been at Springfield many times when the Vermonter and LSL were both in the station. More popular though, was the southbound Vermonter getting into Springfield and allowing a transfer to the westbound Vermonter. The Vermonter used to operate on an earlier schedule and even have the bus connection with passengers from Montreal. That connection was VERY popular in the 2000's and right after the Montrealer was converted to the daylight Vermonter. I can remember boarding in Burlington and there always seemed to be people connecting to the Lake Shore Limited at Springfield (westbound and eastbound). The station agent at Essex Jct-Burlington would often call for passengers to let them know if the LSL was running on-time or late heading eastbound!

    My last trip on the Vermonter - in July 2019 - we seemed to be in/out of of Springfield pretty quickly all considering. I remember when the stop was lengthier. Course we were also running late and trying to make-up time.

    The southbound Adirondack was also notorious for making a connection with the westbound Lakes Shore Limited at Schenectady. Again Canadian passengers and passengers from upstate NY (especially Plattsburgh - army base there?) were doing that connection. I think it worked for Albany-Ren as well, but at one time, I believe it was a guaranteed connection. The LSL was briefly held for the southbound Adirondack when I was aboard one time. On my May trip from Chicago to Washington DC, there was a gentleman trying to book a trip from Chicago to Plattsburgh. The Amtrak agent told him there were no trains that allowed for that. She suggested he take a bus, especially after the gentleman explained that he "used to take the train" to and from. I finally butted in and told him that if he wanted to book to Plattsburgh via train, he'd have to overnight in Schenecatdy or New York City. Not sure why the Amtrak agent couldn't figure this out too! Amtrak would have definitely lost the sale if I didn't interject. I can only imagine how often this happens. And again, this is where looking at a system map - instead of just relying solely on the computer - or a printed schedule would have worked. Clearly the computer was not giving the agent any help. Whatever they did to "upgrade" the reservation system earlier in 2019 it doesn't show good connectivity among trains and even if a sleeper was booked for one section, but then to continue on past Denver it would require a room change, to continue the journey to Emeryville, the older version of the reservation system, would allow for the booking (if you called the agent on the phone, but the newer version is not as accommodating wit this AT ALL). That's from personal experience. CA Zephyr was ALWAYS a tricky booking to get a sleeper "all the way" from Chicago to Emeryville. Always required room change in peak period if not booking months in advance on the CA Zephyr, and before they put the third sleeper in inventory. With whatever udgrade was done, ts' completely obnoxious.
     
  7. Aug 10, 2019 #7

    lordsigma

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    You might have to go through Springfield anyway to get a bus to Northampton. While I agree that Northampton is a great spot, the newly renovated union station at Springfield is quite an improvement over what was there before and is worth seeing and that section of Springfield, despite its challenges, does have some worthwhile places to check out within walking distance including a few great restaurants. There have been a lot of efforts to improve downtown Springfield. No easy challenge as it has a lot of issues, but it’s nice they are at least trying.
     
  8. Aug 10, 2019 #8

    neroden

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    neroden

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    The eastbound LSL to northbound Vermonter connection is also broken.

    The primary solution there is for the eastbound LSL to operate much earlier. It used to. It has been shown repeatedly in studies that it would have much higher ridership. It operates late for really, really stupid reasons -- to collect passengers from delayed Western trains. This is letting the tail wag the dog; it makes no sense.
     
  9. Aug 10, 2019 #9

    lordsigma

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    I am really hoping the proposed SPG-BOS corridor happens. They just released six alternatives. These would also all benefit 448/449 if they go through as they would involve improvements on the Worcester line as well as between Worcester and Springfield in all alternatives with a couple alternatives extending the corridor to PIT. I would imagine based on costs the first phase would run BOS-SPG with a bus bridge to PIT. The state has not decided whether this would be an Amtrak corridor or a commuter route but either way would provide Vermonter folks better access to points east. Amtrak representatives have urged the study to also consider connecting to the Empire Service in Albany with the corridor but I doubt that would happen unless NY plays ball.

    Personally I am hoping for Amtrak as it would involve less stops and shorter travel times to BOS with hopefully just the existing lake shore stops plus a stop in Palmer, and 448/449 could function as a part of the schedule which would help its ridership - particularly 449 which with the track work would be pretty reliable.
     
  10. Aug 10, 2019 #10

    Rasputin

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    The failure to offer a connection at Springfield sadly seems to be more evidence that Amtrak is just novelty transportation.
     
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  11. Aug 12, 2019 #11

    neroden

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    Oh, NY will play ball. The new Democratic State Senate majority transportation committee did a bunch of meetings upstate regarding transportation and everyone said they wanted more upstate public transportation, including multiple requests for improved intercity train service in all directions. They're inclined to be helpful.
     
  12. Aug 12, 2019 #12

    thully

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    This is an issue I ran into on my first overnight Amtrak trip 8 years ago or so - no connections between the Vermonter and LSL. In my case, I wanted to get to Vermont from Ann Arbor (via Toledo). Ended up getting picked up in Springfield (and taking the Capitol Limited+Regional there to avoid that awful Toledo call time on 48). On the way back I did the Port Kent ferry/Adirondack to LSL (which only works in one direction). You could in theory connect from the Vermonter to the LSL westbound as well, but the short time between trains means it isn’t offered as a guaranteed connection. Kind of astounded that this persists - as it is, passengers on the Vermonter route are cut off from any connections from the west/going west without an overnight.
     
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  13. Aug 12, 2019 #13

    tricia

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    Well, passengers on ANY train that goes to NOL are cut off from any connections in ANY direction without an overnight in New Orleans. And even "guaranteed" connections at Chicago aren't very reliable. Connectivity is obviously something Amtrak really needs to do better.
     
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