Latest News: January 2022
- Final repairs on five new bridge decks are nearing completion on Berkshire Line. Work includes walkways, handrails, backwall timbers, and bearing work. Work is substantially complete and punch list is being performed now.
- Approximately 80% of continuous welded rail has been completed on the Berkshire Line Phase I. The remaining 20% will be completed this spring (9.6 of 12 miles).
- Phase II Berkshire Line continuous welded rail bid package is being prepared for advertisement in February and will begin late spring. Phase III for the remaining Berkshire Line is being designed and will be advertised late this year/early next year.
The report can be found on this link: https://www.mass.gov/lists/massdot-board-of-directors-meeting-materials.
The Housatonic Line, also called the Berkshire Line, will again provide passenger service from New York City to Pittsfield, MA via Danbury, CT. The current proposal calls for 8 round trips a day, originating and terminating in Grand Central Station, and will allow passengers to travel the 160 miles from Pittsfield to New York in 3 hours and 55 minutes.
In 2014, Massachusetts passed a transportation bond bill that included funds in support of the Berkshire Housatonic Line. The Commonwealth purchased 37 miles of track in the state from HRRC and also allotted funds for initial track repairs to bring the line up to a state of good repair. The goal was to eliminate all track conditions that prevent operation of passenger trains and to provide a solid base for future improvement. Prior to the implementation of through passenger service, however, further investment in the line will have to be made.
The Berkshire Housatonic Line service is still in the conceptual stages. No decisions have been made with respect to train control systems, equipment, maintenance facilities, or station locations (though a $250,000 study has assessed locations in Berkshire County itself). There have been many suggestions, however, such as dual-mode battery electric options, high acceleration, rail cars instead of locomotive-hauled trains, reuse of historic stations within walking distance of attractions, integration with feeder bus services to expand the market area, etc., which are both feasible and appealing, but those decisions have not been made. The time to debate and find the best options will be when the proposal moves to the design stage.
Politicians across state lines to start working together to implement the service and generate the benefits that will be produced. Establishing a new interstate agency with a guaranteed funding stream to plan, promote, and operate a New York City–Pittsfield service may be the easiest and most direct way to get interstate cooperation.
The Berkshire Housatonic Line service will be a link in a much more extensive passenger rail network that will help to revitalize the region and meet the needs of a greener, more connected transportation service.
HB3571 – An Act special act funding a study of passenger service on the Housatonic rail line
Sponsored by: Rep. William Smitty Pignatelli (D)
Download 2-page fact sheet (March 2021) with Massachusetts: Housatonic Line information 20210309-MA
Download 2-page fact sheet (March 2021) with Connecticut map: Housatonic Line information 20210318-CT