Dear Mr. Secretary,
I write to add my voice to what I hope is a growing chorus of support for the re-establishment of passenger rail service along the Housatonic River valley, which I feel most strongly could help revitalize this beautiful, but economically distressed corner of our state.
Sixty years ago the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railway Company ran regular passenger trains between Grand Central Terminal, New York and Pittsfield, Massachusetts – including one, Train No. 144, which offered a limited-stop service (every afternoon except Sundays), with a parlor car and a ‘broiler buffet’, and was known as The Berkshire Express.
But then, with the post-war’s growing consumer economy and the widespread adoption of motoring by returning World War Two soldiers, travelers started to pass between the metropolis and the Berkshires along the roadways – leading to the vast expansion of suburbs, the construction of parkways, a huge increase in traffic jams, a concomitant rise in pollution and the expenditure of billions on imported gasoline.
The re-adoption of train service should reverse all these damaging environmental trends. It would have the dual benefits of encouraging economic growth in the Berkshires, and doing so in a green manner, with long-term benefits for all.
My interest in arguing the case for spending state monies on bringing this plan to fruition is not rooted in nostalgia. It is very much a plan for the future – for I entirely believe that economic growth would be stimulated here in Berkshire county, and our regional carbon footprint would be drastically reduced – both excellent reasons for bringing back the train which once served us so well.
With respect – and optimistic hope for the future of the Berkshires,
From Richard Davey, Secretary of Transportation
Thanks so much for the note. Governor Patrick is in full agreement, and has included $100M in our five year transportation capital plan to help restore the train service. We are working closely with the owners of the railroad, Housatonic Railroad, to come to an agreement on how we can best do that. The track is so old, we will need to make major investments to ensure the railroad is safe for passenger speeds.
In addition, we are also having conversations with the state of Connecticut who will be a key partner. While their current focus is rail service between New Haven and Springfield, we believe support is building across our border for the Berkshire service too.
I am hopeful we can make real progress over the final months of our term, and your support and advocacy should continue – the next Administration needs to know that this is good for the Berkshires and our economy as a whole.
Best to you.
Trains do so much more than to revitalize economies, they add flavor and nuance to communities; a verve of sound and texture. I support your efforts.