• Taking Amtrak to the Berkshires (and an alternative)

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Gilbert B Norman
 
First, it seems like to name any of these "startups" --Flyer is the kiss of death. That statement is based on the reports that, be it Berkshire, Cape, or Valley, none are reported here to be doing all that well.

Now sure I've talked about riding a reincarnated "The Berkshire" to Woodrow, then hiking "up The Hill" to an SKS Class Reunion, but I also know the likelihood of such is that my surname will change from Norman to Methuselah.

But if there EVER WERE to be a restored Berkshire line going the 79 miles Danbury-Pittsfield, only FRA Class 3 would be needed. It will always just be US7 which while four lane expressway to Brookfield, then four lane to New Milford, is two lane 45 mph posted elsewhere in CT. And, again I note, there will never be an I-289.

I understand that there is at least one industry in Canaan, medical device maker Becton Dickinson, that gives "Housy" business handling plastic pellets interchanged from Cheesie at Pittsfield and used in production. So maybe at present it's FRA Class 2.

But trust me volks, you don't want to see that sorry excuse of a railroad around New Milford, Woodrow, and Kent. I understand all they have for business through there is garbage - and they have spilled that "a time or two".
  by Greg Moore
 
Like many, I suspect this train won't be as successful as predicted, but...
First, I think anytime you have 1/Day once a week, you're going to have a hard time selling it.
Since the train deadheads to Albany Friday night, I think Amtrak should definitely look at turning that into a revenue run and considering timing it so folks can make dinner and theater in Pittsfield.

That said, on one hand, while there's definitely costs and some logistical issues with this extension, it's also pretty simple. Tack on a second engine (and if Amtrak had enough cab cars that could be eliminated) and take an existing train and simply extend it. It's not like it's requiring extra equipment or a great deal of effort for an entirely new route (since the LSL already covers part of it).

And, at the end of the day, honestly, it's Massachusetts money, so as long as they're willing to commit to it for the 2 year trial, I'm willing to see what happens.
  by PC1100
 
There was a "mini-Amtrak" bill in the NY State Legislature, 1971 I believe, that would have kept the Upper Harlem passenger service going. Either Rockefeller vetoed it or it didn't pass, but either way, we'd be in a far better place today had it gone through! My understanding is the Harlem was always the superior route to the NH. With all of the improvements that have been made to the remaining portion of the Harlem in the last 40 years, I'm sure it would be a very successful operation today and this whole issue would be irrelevant. The fact that both the NYC and NH served the Berkshire region to NYC market with competing routes for decades shows it has a place, but it should be more geared to locals and vacationers, and not just weekend getaway travel, as it was in the days of NYC and NH.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Certainly agree, Mr. PC1100.

Back in the days , '54-'56, when I regularly rode White Plains-Millerton (fare: $2.64 :-D ), the Alco RS-3's could get going to 60mph, while the NH Berkshire Div was at best 50. One was laid through a valley, the other along a very winding river (geologists would consider "Housy" to be "young").

With the "New Yorking" (funny how all the "quainty oldy" B&B's have discovered New York prices; my top contenders in that "Rogue's Gallery") of Dutchess and Litchfield as well, had Harlem Div not been chopped up as quickly as it was North of Wassaic, passenger service maybe "all the way" but at least to Millerton, could still be in place operated by Metro-North.
  by Safetee
 
According to an old engineer in the course of a DPU inspection of the Canaan in the mid 70s, in the days of steam they could hit a hundred on a couple of the long tangents.
  by Railjunkie
 
Greg Moore wrote: Sun Jul 24, 2022 8:57 pm Like many, I suspect this train won't be as successful as predicted, but...
First, I think anytime you have 1/Day once a week, you're going to have a hard time selling it.
Since the train deadheads to Albany Friday night, I think Amtrak should definitely look at turning that into a revenue run and considering timing it so folks can make dinner and theater in Pittsfield.

That said, on one hand, while there's definitely costs and some logistical issues with this extension, it's also pretty simple. Tack on a second engine (and if Amtrak had enough cab cars that could be eliminated) and take an existing train and simply extend it. It's not like it's requiring extra equipment or a great deal of effort for an entirely new route (since the LSL already covers part of it).

And, at the end of the day, honestly, it's Massachusetts money, so as long as they're willing to commit to it for the 2 year trial, I'm willing to see what happens.
The train is now revenue both directions on Fridays and Sundays. The issue of adding time in Pittsfield comes down to CSX and I do not see them willing to play ball unless someone comes up with more $$$$$. On the Amtrak side we in Albany at times barely have enough engines to cover the service we currently run. All it takes is a dual mode or two to act up and its a scramble.
So for now its change ends do your brake tests get your IETMS set up talk to the dispatcher look for the light and get out of Dodge.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Safetee wrote: Mon Jul 25, 2022 10:57 am According to an old engineer in the course of a DPU inspection of the Canaan in the mid 70s, in the days of steam they could hit a hundred on a couple of the long tangents.'
Well, Mr. Safetee, such results in this (sorry if paywalled). I was 1 month old, and "not exactly" on board.

https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesm ... geNumber=1

fair Use:
SOUTH KENT, Conn., Aug. 28 — Two hundred and fifty-four carefree youngsters returning to New York and New Jersey from vacations passed in three Summer camps in the Berkshire Mountains escaped death or injury today when a six-car special train of the New York, New Haven Hartford Railroad was derailed on a curve here, the engine and the first three coaches plunging into Hatch Pond
There is a "stretch" from where South Kent Road diverges from CT 341 to the curve North end of Hatch Pond where this incident occurred.
  by Greg Moore
 
Railjunkie wrote: Mon Jul 25, 2022 11:53 am
Greg Moore wrote: Sun Jul 24, 2022 8:57 pm Like many, I suspect this train won't be as successful as predicted, but...
First, I think anytime you have 1/Day once a week, you're going to have a hard time selling it.
Since the train deadheads to Albany Friday night, I think Amtrak should definitely look at turning that into a revenue run and considering timing it so folks can make dinner and theater in Pittsfield.

That said, on one hand, while there's definitely costs and some logistical issues with this extension, it's also pretty simple. Tack on a second engine (and if Amtrak had enough cab cars that could be eliminated) and take an existing train and simply extend it. It's not like it's requiring extra equipment or a great deal of effort for an entirely new route (since the LSL already covers part of it).

And, at the end of the day, honestly, it's Massachusetts money, so as long as they're willing to commit to it for the 2 year trial, I'm willing to see what happens.
The train is now revenue both directions on Fridays and Sundays. The issue of adding time in Pittsfield comes down to CSX and I do not see them willing to play ball unless someone comes up with more $$$$$. On the Amtrak side we in Albany at times barely have enough engines to cover the service we currently run. All it takes is a dual mode or two to act up and its a scramble.
So for now its change ends do your brake tests get your IETMS set up talk to the dispatcher look for the light and get out of Dodge.
Thanks. Good to know.
Honestly, it's a pretty ride. I could see myself doing a round trip just for the relaxation.
  by BandA
 
Cape Cod service will eventually succeed because there are only two highway bridges + a barely used railroad bridge to access that giant sand bar and traffic congestion must inevitably increase. In the Berkshires there is room to widen highways, build bypasses, bridges & underpasses to relieve choke points.
  by Red Wing
 
If it's so easy to widen highways and building bypasses and the like in Western Mass, why isn't there an exit on the Pike between Lee and Westfield yet?
  by Train60
 
Because Mass has a DOT that takes ten years to build anything significant and before they do that they need to study it 2-3 times.
  by Railjunkie
 
Safetee wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 8:49 am and how many happy berkshire warriors dismounted in pittsfield yesterday?
The counts have held steady at right around fifty since it began running. I have no idea on Sunday for the return trip as the crew to NYP signs up a little earlier than I do.
  by Greg Moore
 
50 is a bit low, but honestly, not as horrible as I feared.
(and folks have to keep in mind, that really the "cost" is just ALB-Pittsfield, the NYP-ALB leg is just a repurposed train).

I hope the 2 years does give Massachusetts the opportunity to market this better. (and NYS still needs to add a Chatham stop in my opinion.)
  by Safetee
 
I would be interested to see just how the 50 breaks down from riders originating at NYP versus Rensselaer. and just to be slightly anal here, it would be nice to go on board and see how many of the 50 are: rabid fans, people actually going just to pittsfield, and then those supposedly targeted folks heading further for the hallowed grounds of lenox, lee etc. for the latter survey i'm swagging 12 frns, 3 pitts, 35 lees etc. and i'm further guessing that most of the frns came from renss.
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