There are two issues: time for construction (or reconstruction) of the train system and time to secure funding to build it.
The actual time to complete the reconstruction of the rail line, purchase and fit rail cars and locomotives, and build stations between Danbury, Connecticut, and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is three years. Service could be extended as far as the Canaan (Connecticut) / Sheffield (Massachusetts) area more quickly (about two years).
Housatonic Railroad has determined that once the full system is completed it can operate the railroad without a public subsidy, but the proposed service will not generate sufficient funds to finance the cost of construction. The company therefore has proposed a funding approach that blends the private and public sector: accessing a special loan program that enables the company to borrow at low rates and yet using private-sector approaches to rail construction. We need to support a public sector contribution to the annual principal and interest payments on the loan.
In Massachusetts, that annual public cost will be $5–6 million. To put that in perspective, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts presently pays over $1 billion annually to subsidize operations for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston. Significant taxes are generated in the Berkshires that pay MBTA costs. This hybrid approach will simply keep a little of the tax revenues generated in the Berkshires to fund passenger rail here. In order to build the system, the loan funds need to be secured, and to do that we need the support of the Commonwealth. This is where every citizen can help, by pressing the governor and our representatives to Bring Back the Trains.
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