The Housatonic Line is included in the governor’s $18-billion transportation bond bill, now pending before House Ways and Means, and thanks to Rep. Smitty Pignatelli and with the support of the Western Mass Rail Coalition, “Worcester to Springfield” was changed to “Worcester to Pittsfield.” So in the bond bill there is now an allocation to support continued work on Pittsfield and Berkshire County rail going both east to Boston and south to New York. You can take a look at the text by clicking HERE, and there is lots more in this article, “Baker Transportation Borrowing Bill Moves Closer To House Vote.”
This is in addition to the favorable reporting on Senate Bill SB2096 and House Bill HB3110 (HD1892), “A special act funding a study of passenger service on the Housatonic rail line,” by the state’s Joint Committee on Transportation on February 5th. (Click here to read about it.) We need you to write to your Berkshire County legislators urging their continued support for these bills. A number of select boards are also writing letters of support, and if you are a member of a select or planning board, please join in. Write to us if you need further information or a sample letter.
For background, in February 2018 the Berkshire County Selectmen’s Association comments on the Draft Massachusetts State Rail Plan stated, “The Rail Plan should pursue upgrades to the Housatonic Line that would sustain freight service and facilitate future implementation of passenger service.” The Housatonic Line Passenger Rail Service was ranked #1 in Berkshire Regional Planning Commission’s 2020 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). Three major studies have already been done on the line, two in 2010 and one in 2014, providing a valuable foundation for the further research called for in the 2020 bills. Download them from the library on the Train Campaign website.
“East-west rail backers predict half a million commuter trips each year; MassDOT promises second look at ridership estimates”
“Better, faster east-west passenger rail service could attract more than a half million commuter trips a year, regional planners from across Western Massachusetts told MassDOT officials Monday, offering an estimate that far exceeds the state’s recently released numbers. | State officials on Monday said they would revisit their estimates, and increase the catchment area around rail stations from 20 miles to 40 or more miles.” Read more about the pushback at Monday’s East-West Rail Study meeting HERE.
And here are two reports that were presented at the meeting, both clear and compelling:
- Presentation made by the regional planning associations and 1Berkshire at the East-West Rail Study meeting on Monday, 24 February 2020
- White paper distributed by the Western Mass Rail Coalition at the same meeting