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Regional News

Train between Pittsfield, New York City to start in July

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

New passenger train service between New York City and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, will begin this summer. One state legislator said there are several keys that can make it a success.

The serviced — dubbed the Berkshire Flyer — will operate over the next two summers as a test run. It will then be evaluated to see if it is feasible for the future.

State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, of Lenox, said he is excited for it to begin and that affordability and efficiency will be important for the Berkshire Flyer's success. He said what happens to passengers once they arrive in Pittsfield will also be a factor.

"What are we going to do when people get to the Berkshires? Do we have a network of taxi cabs or Ubers or shuttles from area hotels? If I get off the train in Pittsfield and I'm staying in Great Barrington, how do I get to Great Barrington?"

Pignatelli said he hopes the Berkshire Flyer will eventually be successful enough to be self-sufficient.

"I think it's very exciting that it's happening, but we have to make sure this is a sustainable, ideally a self-sustainable program, otherwise the state's going to be subsidizing this thing for years to come," he said.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation this week released more details about the service, which is slated to begin July 8.

On Fridays, a train will leave New York City at 3:16 p.m. and arriving in Pittsfield at 7:12. The return trip takes place on Sunday afternoon departing Pittsfield at 3 p.m. and pulling into New York at 7:05 p.m.. Both north and south bound trains will make intermediate stops at several locations before arriving at Penn Station.

Amtrak will operate the Berkshire Flyer. Tickets will become available in May.

The idea to bring passenger rail service from New York to Berkshire County dates back several years and was the subject of a study and much discussion over the last few years.

Word that the Berkshire Flyer would be starting up was just one piece of train-related news impacting western New England.

U.S Rep. Richard Neal, of Springfield and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the state is ready to take next steps toward expanding passenger rail service between western Massachusetts and Boston. It was also announced that trains between Springfield and New Haven, Connecticut, will soon return to pre-pandemic levels.

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