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Study Says Pittsfield, Mass., To NYC Train Service Can Work

The rail platform at the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Adam Frenier
The rail platform at the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

A working group says seasonal passenger rail service between Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and New York City is a possibility, and that the so-called Berkshire Flyer could start running in the next couple of years.

In its final report, the group calls for service to run between Memorial Day and Columbus Day with one train heading to Pittsfield on Fridays, with a return trip to New York City on Sundays. The route would involve going through Albany, New York, each way, largely using existing Amtrak service.

Massachusetts state Senator Adam Hinds, who pushed for the study, said that is a win-win, in terms of cost and when service might start.

"This has zero new infrastructure costs and the fact that a pilot (program) can be done in one-to-two years is great news," Hinds said.

But there are still hurdles to clear.

One is coming with operating funds, estimated to be at $237,000 for the proposed 20-week-a-year run of the Berkshire Flyer.

"I could envision a public/private partnership," Hinds said. "We noted the Cape Flyer did not use any state subsidies for this, and so I would like to go that same route."

Hinds is referring to the Cape Flyer seasonal rail service, which runs between between Boston and Cape Cod -- and after which the Berkshire Flyer is modeled.

The study also says in order to get passengers between the Pittsfield train station and other Berkshire communities, ground transportation options will need to be improved. And a local group would be needed to help manage and promote the service.

In a statement, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said it will review the study to learn more about the "logistics, challenges and opportunities offered for proposed passenger rail service between Pittsfield, Albany and New York City." 

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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