Berkshire Edge has an article updating progress
“The gross cost to purchase the train service from Amtrak would be approximately $425,000, but the net cost could be reduced to some $240,000 if revenue projections proved accurate,” the letter to lawmakers said. “Those revenue and cost estimates are based on the service carrying 2,600 passengers over a 20-week season.”
I'm about 2/3rds of the way through the actual study.
Overall I think they did a fairly good job. I have just 1-2 thoughts.
They looked at 2 main options with one split into 2 suboptions
Option 1A-Extend existing trains from Albany-Rensselaer to Pittsfield.
Option 1B-Have a new train via the existing route, but express to Rhinecliff
Option 2-build a wye connecting the CSX Schodack Division to the CSX-Berskhire Sub.
It appears Option 1A wins out. Option 2, the capital costs are very high and the time savings isn't all that great.
I may have missed it, but I think Option 2, while saving time, actually eliminates Albany as sort of a catch basin for folks who simply want to go to the Berkshires.
So my two comments at this time:
1) I think the Friday Service leaves NYC too early. They should look at a later train. I think this would attract more riders.
2) Since they discuss deadheading back to Albany, they might as well try to make that a revenue trip. Say with the existing suggested arrival around 6:10, head back around 11:00 PM. Folks could catch a show in Pittsfield and then head back. Not much traffic, but turns the deadhead into a revenue trip.
They do discuss an eventual wye in Pittsfield for turning the train to cut down on deadheading and the need to add an engine/cab-car (which I didn't see mentioned btw, but I may have missed it) in Albany.
It appears that the plan is to arrive at Albany, discharge passengers, add an engine, wye the train, receive passengers, head to Pittsfield.
Presumably deadhead back to Albany, wye the train and then on Sunday "back" into Pittsfield so that when they leave all seats face forward.
The current plan allows for all passengers to always face forwards.
Personally, for the expect costs, I think Mass should jump on it for a 3 year trial and see what happens. Include bike service and you get a win also.
And NYS should seriously consider a new platform in Chatham, NY to take advantage of this.
But, I'm now of the opinion that I wouldn't be surprised if in the next 5 years we see at the very least a trial program.
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