As with the Cape Flyer, the genius of these operations is that they use equipment at the ends/margins of their "weekday commuter" service day
, squeezing extra revenue-hours out of equipment that is both "free" in the schedule sense and therefore "nearly free" in the economic sense.
Before later switching to a dedicated trainset operating semi-express, The Cape Flyer started as a pure extension of an MBTA train that would have just gone to the yards at its "outer" end, and the Berkshire Flyer cloned this concept for its Option 1A in the Study
such that it doesn't actually require new equipment, so much as it just runs Albany trains for a few extra hours:
2.2.1 Option 1A- Empire Corridor Extension
The contemplated service would function as an extension of existing
Amtrak Empire Service between New York Penn Station and
Albany/Rensselaer using equipment that would be headed to storage at
the end of the day to provide the trip to Pittsfield for the Berkshire
Flyer service. This service would use the existing tracks between
Pittsfield and New York Penn Station via Albany/ Rensselaer.
22.214.171.124 Operational Route Description
On Friday, northbound passengers would board train #255, departing
from New York Penn Station at approximately 2:20 PM; arriving at
Albany/Rensselaer at 4:50 PM. Passengers would then continue on to
Pittsfield aboard the same train, arriving at about 6:10 PM.
On Sunday, southbound passengers would board a train in Pittsfield at
approximately 2:45 PM for the trip to Albany/Rensselaer and then
would continue on to New York Penn Station as train #244 departing
Albany/Rensselaer at 4:10 PM and arriving at New York Penn Station
at 6:45 PM.
It is assumed that the contemplated service would be based out of Albany/Rensselaer and would
be operated by providing either deadhead or revenue trips between Pittsfield and
Albany/Rensselaer to position trains appropriately. It is assumed that the service would not
require any additional capital infrastructure in Albany/Rensselaer or Pittsfield for train layover or
126.96.36.199 Rolling Stock Assumptions
Because the service is an extension of existing Amtrak services during non-peak periods, it is
assumed that the service could be provided by Amtrak using the existing fleet. It is understood
that modifications to train consists providing the service would require an additional locomotive
to operate along the segment between Albany/Rensselaer and Pittsfield to compensate for the
lack of train-turning capabilities in the Pittsfield area (see Appendix B for a wye-track concept
that could be considered in the future to improve operations). If the service sells out on a regular
basis an additional coach could be added to the train set to accommodate the demand.
Option 1B proposed a "Long(er) Weekend" semi-express (stopping at Croton-Harmon, Hudson, Albany & Pit only) that left NYP at 12:30pm and got to Pittfield at 4:20pm (Fridays) and then a Sunday return at 5:40pm into Penn at 9:30pm. Equipment availability was said to be there, but it had several strikes against it:
1) NYSDOT would not support a new train that failed to make all stops
2) (In my view) the Friday Outbound was too early.
Option 2 contemplated a new connecting track and the use of CSX's Schodack Subdivision. But because this physically-shorter route would be slow (40mph) it only saved 4 minutes vs being able to go via ALB at 110mph.
So I think the pilot is going to be an Option 1A (I'm not sure why they don't propose a Sat-Sat r/t such as the Cape Flyer has)