Purchase, Track Improvements Historic Steps toward Passenger Rail Service between the Berkshires and New York City
LAWRENCE- Wednesday, July 16, 2014- The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors today authorized MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey to execute an agreement to purchase the Berkshire Line from the Housatonic Railroad Company, a major step toward delivering passenger rail service between New York City and the Berkshires.
The agreement includes $12.13 million to acquire the line and an estimated $35 million for initial track improvements, funded by the 2014 Transportation Bond Bill approved by the legislature. The Berkshire Line extends approximately 37 miles from the Connecticut border in Sheffield through Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Lee, and Lenox to Pittsfield, where it joins the CSXT Railroad main line.
“Studies have shown that a Berkshire County rail connection to New York City would be a winner, with more than one million rides annually,” said Secretary Davey. “This purchase and the initial upgrades in the line represent historic steps toward improved access to the Berkshires for tourists and residents alike.”
The initial track improvements will permit the operation of passenger trains but serve freight trains until the Connecticut portion of the project is completed. A final round of track improvements will be required along with improvements on the Connecticut portion of the line prior to the start of passenger rail service. The Transportation Bond Bill included $113 million for the purchase and Massachusetts portion of the track improvements.
A date for the beginning of passenger service is dependent upon completion of the upgrades in both states.
In 2009, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) was created to unify the state’s various transportation agencies. MassDOT now includes the Highway Division, the MBTA and Rail Transit Division, the Aeronautics Division, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. MassDOT is committed to providing a safe and reliable transportation system to all those who travel in the Commonwealth and works to deliver excellent customer service. MassDOT has been nationally recognized for its innovative approach to transportation, including the Accelerated Bridge Program, the “Where’s My Bus and Train?” apps and “Fast 14” work. For more information, visit MassDOT at our website: www.mass.gov/massdot blog: http://blog.mass.gov/transportation/, or follow MassDOT on twitter at https://twitter.com/MassDOT and Facebook at www.facebook.com/massdotinfo.