On July 16, 2014, MassDOT voted to enter into a contract with Housatonic Railroad Company to purchase the 37 miles of this corridor in MA and also to allocate $35 million for initial track improvements. The total commitment by MA is now $113 million, but some is dependent on CT and other funding. The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a Passenger Rail Station Location and Design Analysis along the Housatonic Railroad line between Sheffield and downtown Pittsfield. This is a comprehensive planning study focused on evaluating the most feasible locations for passenger rail facilities within the communities of Sheffield, Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Lee and Lenox. http://berkshireplanning.org/images/uploads/projects/Passenger_Rail_Study_2014_-_Complete_Report.pdf
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- The proposed route runs from Pittsfield, MA, crosses into CT at Sheffield/Canaan, goes south to New Milford, then over to the Metro-North station at Southeast.
- Passenger service requires modern rail tracks, and this upgrade is the majority of the cost of getting the service into operation.
- Plans are for an initial service with eight trains per day in each direction. Express trains are being considered.
- Travel time to Great Barrington will be approximately three hours. This is not a “high-speed” project because of the geography of the region.
- High-level platforms and the 10-mile minimum between stations are designed to improve travel times and preliminary schedules are in progress.
- CT is being asked to commit approximately $85 million, but other funding sources are being sought.
- Housatonic Railroad affirms that it will run the service without public subsidy.
- Stations are currently suggested for Pittsfield, Lee, and Great Barrington, for Canaan/Sheffield on the Massachusetts-Connecticut state line, and Cornwall Bridge, Kent, New Milford, and Brookfield/Danbury.
- There will be food service, wifi, and racks for bikes and skis. Will work with railroad communications and control systems and piggy back wifi on them.
- Ticket prices will be similar to those of Metro-North’s fare structure, in the range of 25 cents per mile.
- The actual time to do the reconstruction of the rail line, purchase and fit rail cars and locomotives, and build stations between Danbury, Connecticut, and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is three years.
- The estimated cost to restore passenger service to the Berkshires is $200 million. The funds will enable the railroad to rehabilitate the 90 mile rail line between Danbury and Pittsfield to passenger standards, recondition passenger locomotives, refurbish/purchase passenger coaches, and build or renovate stations.