Friday, July 18, 2014

MassDOT Board approves purchase of Berkshire rail line

Stockbridge Rail Station Stockbridge Rail Station MassDOT

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Board of Directors authorized MassDOT Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard Davey to execute an agreement to purchase the Berkshire Line from the Housatonic Railroad Company, a 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 CSX mainline.

"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.

 

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