• Pittsfield - New York City Service Study (via Albany)

  • 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

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  by merrick1
 
Noel Weaver wrote:The one place where the New Haven competed for passenger business was Pittsfield - New York and the distance was about the same as was the running time and this was back in the 1940's, I don't think the running time would be much different today.
Noel Weaver
At some time the New York Central had service to North Adams via Chatham and Pittsfield. One of the roll signs above the Graybar Passage was stuck on "North Adams" for years.
  by J.D. Lang
 
Thanks for posting the timetables Scoostraw. I knew that there used to be through service to N. Adams but seeing an actual timetable is pretty neat.

J.L.
  by scoostraw
 
scoostraw wrote:Was the connector to the B&A at Castleton always one-way? Or was there a wye at one time?
I answered my own question. There was never a wye at the Castleton cut-off. It was always one way - designed to connect with Selkirk only.
  by scoostraw
 
One thing that occurred to me that I had never thought about before is that when the Central ended passenger service to North Adams, they cut it all the way back to Chatham - and not Pittsfield.

You would think that they would have wanted to remain competetive with the New Haven with service to NY City out of Pittsfield. But they didn't do it for some reason.
  by Ridgefielder
 
May well have been a lost mail contract. I know that's what ended the weekday Pittsfield-NY round trips on the NH.

And by the way-- that 1939 schedule folder you posted-- I WANT SEATS LIKE THAT ON THE HARLEM DIVISION AGAIN! :-D
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
scoostraw wrote:One thing that occurred to me that I had never thought about before is that when the Central ended passenger service to North Adams, they cut it all the way back to Chatham - and not Pittsfield.

You would think that they would have wanted to remain competetive with the New Haven with service to NY City out of Pittsfield. But they didn't do it for some reason.
Could have to do with Boston & Albany crew rules, since the B&A division for its entire history inside the NYC system always retained a measure of quasi-independence from the mothership in management and operations (to preserve the barest illusion of real competition in Southern New England after the RR monopolies carved it up). Chatham would've been the division post between regular NYC and the B&A, so when chopping the Pittsfield & North Adams Branch from the schedule they may have opted for internal accounting reasons to eliminate all B&A division thru-running. I don't know if the rules at the time required a crew change at Chatham to B&A or not. But even if ops were seamless the unusual way B&A was structured semi-apart from the rest of the NYC system would've required some form of internal "trackage rights" cut to the B&A's ledgers for use of their main on that schedule, so the reason for cutting Pittsfield may have been little more than expeditious intra-divisional penny-pinching.
  by Noel Weaver
 
The service to/from North Adams ended in drips and drabs. First they started running Budd Cars between Chatham and North Adams meaning anybody traveling beyond Chatham had to change trains there. At least some of these trains ran between Albany - Pittsfield and North Adams. Then they cut the some of the trains at Pittsfield and finally ended all services to North Adams. I do not have the dates here right now but I might be able to provide some of them in the future. I think we are looking at the early 50's here. Eventually it was just between New York and Chatham. Some sort of food service remained fairly late in this operation as well. It was always a scenic ride and an interesting operation. The people in the area rode the trains at least during the 50's as well.
Noel Weaver
  by scoostraw
 
Very interesting Noel. I never knew about the Budd Cars.

I'm looking at a 1952 public timetable here and sure enough the trains to North Adams are separate from the Harlem trains. They all ran thru to North Adams, but earlier (1950) some terminated at Pittsfield.

I remember hearing how the Central tried running Budd Cars on the Harlem but gave it up quickly because they were speed limited at crossings and therefore could not maintain the schedule.
  by Greg Moore
 
Apparently, Mass is still looking at Pittsfield-NYP service.
“establishing direct seasonal weekend passenger rail service” between New York and Pittsfield between Memorial Day and Columbus Day weekends, on a route connecting to the Hudson River line that carries Amtrak passenger trains between Penn Station and Albany, New York.
I think this is the best way to start it. Simple, few trains, and see how people respond.
  by johnpbarlow
 
Interesting idea but not a quick route out of A/R on the single track Post Road. Perhaps the planners should consider using the developing Inland Route via Springfield?
But I wonder how many of the seasonal vacationers in the Berkshires want to go to downtown Pittsfield, as opposed to going to Lenox, Lee, Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Sheffield, Canaan,...?
  by F-line to Dudley via Park
 
This is simply paper-pushing to back gracefully out of Gov. Patrick's Housy white elephant. That's why it's being met by such "[*shrug*] I guess we better have some meetings because we're doing a study now or something" bemusement by the locals. It's just an excuse-me exercise in bread-and-circuses to throw a bone at the Western MA communities who got duped by Patrick's hyperbole about Pittsfield-NYC...nothing more. There's no funding to actually do something with the study results, and it's not clear the state is taking the study seriously enough to pursue the correct inquiries. The state is much more serious about the Inland Route than this.


That said...I hope they give the study full due diligence, because it's not that far-fetched to trial as a seasonal thing and see what happens. As I described earlier in the thread Pittsfield does have an excellent bus hub with connectivity all around Berkshire County, and that's rare for an area as rural as this. All it would take is a frequency bump on some of the BRTA fixed routes (say, the Pittsfield-Great Barrington bus) to make car-free travel to the tourist spots eminently doable. And if nothing else, a good-faith crunching of the metrics could uncover some bus-only (intercity + local) options at Pittsfield Intermodal that do the job just as effectively as the train at a lower up-front investment. So the exercise isn't totally useless if they right-size their focus and just quantify the general transit picture rather than aiming too high for train-or-bust.

As for train data...yeah, the B&A + Post Road in NY would need some upgrading. But not a whole lot because they're thinking of this as a peak tourist season-only train akin to the Cape Flyer, with a very risk-averse initial investment and no promises of premier-level service unless it proves itself. Hedging correctly on ultra-low risk and a trial they can get out of after a couple of seasons if it just doesn't attract ridership could make it more palatable than something that would require substantial capital upgrades right off the bat. MA's barrier for entry is going to depend a lot on how much equipment NYSDOT orders for the next PRIAA procurement, which will inform how many of their schedules entertain additional pokes around the Cap District to places like Saratoga. If NYSDOT takes advantage of the optimal unit costs of that loco + coach + (maybe cab?) order to bank a lot of extras for frequency & general expansion on the Empire, then they'll have enough flexibility on the fringes of those reserves to experiment with more weekender/seasonal trains (since those limited-service equipment requirements are a drop-in-the-bucket compared to the day-to-day Empire slate at-large). MA would be wise to have the hard data crunched on that for where its subsidy could go, because the ALB-Pittsfield poke would certainly make the shortlist of one of those minor weekender trials under consideration. Though probably not clocking in near the top of the list.
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