I had a talk yesterday afternoon with one of the crew working on the Berkshire (Housatonic) Line. There are about 50 people hard at work on the $30-million upgrade to the line within Massachusetts. They have 25 of the yellow machines you see in the photos, and perhaps I’ll be able to get a video before they finish. I learned that all the work being done right now is on the ties. Most but not all of them are being replaced. The machines pull out the pins and the old ties, stabilize the gravel ballast (which is 2 feet deep), insert anchors that keep the ties positioned correctly, and then insert the new ties.
They are also straightening the old rail as needed. This work is done in stages: more ties will be installed next spring and then the new rail will replace the old jointed rail.
(Train buffs on the list should feel free to correct these details, scribbled down after the conversation.)
The man I spoke to said that he came from the Midwest and would like to come back and ride one of the passenger trains to New York when all the work is done.
The photos were taken from the depot in Housatonic and at the Maple Avenue crossing in Great Barrington. If you have photos of the train work, please send them to us!
PS: Do notice how beautiful the Berkshire hills are, glowing in the late afternoon sunshine, even when the leaves are mostly gone!