Rockingham Racer wrote:I'm not up to speed on this one. Why would MassDOT want the Adams Branch?
Housatonic RR banned Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum from their native tracks on the Berkshire Line in an ugly spat a few years ago where they accused the museum of "FRA violations" on its tour trains (though those "violations" were probably Housy's since that was right when they were derailing freight trains once a month). The non-profit museum's viability was severely threatened by not being able to run their own trains, and that was a big concern for the tourism interests out in Berkshire County. BSRM, state, county, Chambers of Commerce, etc. all put their heads together on a way to get them immediate help. They came up with a plan to set up BSRM with rights on the Adams Branch to run a summertime tourism shuttle with a BSRM-acquired RDC set, and to restore about 3/4 mile of trackage to the downtown Adams depot. This was all the same time PAS was negotiating to sell the Conn River Line to the state, so they were game for scraping off more track miles. Sales were supposed to happen in tandem, but were split into separate STB filings and spaced out. I wouldn't read much into the $1.5M purchase price quoted here because it's probably packed with enough accounting remainders from the $17M Conn River sale to be nearly meaningless as a valuation for the Adams Branch-proper.
That's it. Absolute zero state-level operating interest, just an economic stabilizer move for the county's tourism industry. BSRM thinks it can get a decent farebox recovery on this barebones dinky, towns of North Adams + Adams think it ties the room together nicely during peak tourist season and are backing it with enthusiasm, and the state served its economic development purpose by stepping in on BSRM's and the county's behalf when Housy evicted the museum. That's the be-all/end-all of the "strategic" interest in this purchase. Really, really microscopic stakes. State will probably get BSRM back operating on its Berkshire Line tracks sometime in the next 2-3 years too once it digests what it has in that other acquisition and slaps Housy around a few times to play fair. But they still see this North Adams dinky as a permanent summertime attraction that'll float itself, so it's here to stay as a second BSRM operation if/when they return to their home rails.