I have read countless articles about the Monadnock Region’s efforts to improve its economy, but nothing about a recent Massachusetts event that could be an economic “game changer” here: the start of four new Amtrak trains — the “Valley Flyer” to Holyoke, Northampton and Greenfield; a mere 60 minutes from Keene, Walpole and Bellows Falls; and 30 minutes from Brattleboro, Hinsdale and Winchester.
The region should promote this new service, as having access to six trains per day, something not seen in 52 years, should be an economic boon for several reasons.
Trains, which function as moving offices, will encourage businesses to stay and expand, and new ones to relocate. Businesses want locations high in quality of life, cultural, educational and historical assets. Now we also have easy rail access to Springfield, Hartford, New York City and Bradley Airport.
Trains will allow tourist officials to secure more visitors because persons along busy East Coast corridors can bypass intense car and truck traffic and expensive tolls to reach Keene, where they can tour locally or regionally.
Trains will allow colleges to recruit and retain more students, who will have a safer, more productive and less stressful route to home, attractions and libraries. Professors can access conferences and research centers better, and alumni will attend more events.
Trains will allow residents to take day trips New York City, to reach Virginia attraction “hot spots” in a single day, to access Bradley Airport, and to take long-distance trains from New York toward Florida or New Orleans.
As this two-year “pilot service” must achieve 24,000 riders per year to be made permanent and expanded, organizations and individuals need to explore how they can promote or use the expanded train service to best advantage now. This opportunity may not arise for another half century.
28 Hayward Drive
(This writer is a member of the National Association of Railroad Passengers and Trains in the Valley.)