Great point; no one wants a "commuter ride" for four hours. As Dutch has pointed out ACRE protects Danbury and south. Lots of hurdles.
New Amtrak service would have to be negotiated and subsidized, and that's not what HRRC wants; they want to run it in a public-private partnership. They could only run on HRRC track due to ACRE to Danbury, and then on CDOT track north of New Milford. So yeah, you're looking at at least a two seat ride, with the first two hours on commuter equipment.
You'd need MNRR to run a super-express from GCT (100% subsidized by CDOT since it's branch service), maybe one stop in Stamford, then direct to Danbury, to cut the run time, and then transfer to HRRC.
And let's not forget CDOT wants to run service to New Milford, and perhaps Pittsfield.
Here's the HRRC press release: http://hrrc.com/press/seemoreie.php?story=6#Scene_1
Read the first paragraph carefully; also mentioned is the "capacity to connect with Metro North in Brewster, New York". hmmmmmm.
John Hanlon, President of the Housatonic Railroad, announced today the results of a comprehensive study to determine ridership demand for a rail passenger service between Pittsfield, MA and New York City. In June, 2010 Housatonic Railroad contracted with Market Street Research of Northampton, Massachusetts to determine if it was feasible to start a privately operated rail passenger service over the Housatonic Railroad route between Pittsfield, MA and Danbury, CT. In Danbury, Housatonic’s rail line connects with Metro North into New York and Housatonic Railroad also has the capacity to connect with Metro North in Brewster, New York.
In a letter to government officials, regional planners and other interested parties Hanlon stated, “If we use the median ridership information (accounting for seasonal trends) we have a ridership of two million one way riders per year. This is extremely encouraging.” Hanlon further noted “Outwardly, it would appear that a combination of public/private investment could create a service that requires little or no operating subsidy.”
The proposed Berkshire Line Project will serve cities and towns in western Connecticut generally between Danbury and North Canaan and would operate in Massachusetts to Pittsfield through Berkshire County. The service region draws a large number of visitors from New York and generates substantial traffic to New York City. In discussing the regional benefits for a new service, Hanlon continued, “Today Litchfield and Berkshire County residents and visitors are limited to the use of the automobile. Rail transport for both freight and passengers is an energy efficient, environmentally friendly solution for our region’s transportation needs. Reducing our dependence on the automobile to move over two million passengers to and from the region reduces our carbon footprint, saves energy and promotes responsible land use.