In Massachusetts, the most important news is the passage of the bond bill, which has a line item for funding the Pittsfield service, along with Cape Rail and planning for service between Worcester and Springfield. This means that the full funding for the Housatonic Railroad(HR) service in Massachusetts is in place and the HR is in the agreement stage with Massdot (the Department of Transportation), working out agreements that will enable funds to flow. The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission (BRPC) continues to work on station locations and as the BRPC refines the list of options they are feeding those options to the HR for input on how each potential location is impacted by rail operations. For example, it is complicated and expensive to build a modern, high-level platform on a curve.
In Connecticut, there is strong public support but the project still lacks a funding commitment. This is important because Massachusetts cannot commit full funding until they see a clear path all the way to NYC. HR will be starting a small project in Connecticut this year to replace about 5.5 miles of rail with modern welded rail that will meet passenger standards, as a start. But there’s still a lot more track, and funding, needed, and that’s where we will be focusing at the Train Campaign. Join us!