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PITTSFIELD — Amtrak, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), and New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), are announcing pilot seasonal passenger rail service to operate this year and in 2023 to be known as the Berkshire Flyer, with a route between New York City and Pittsfield, MA. The service will be initiated on July 8 and will operate on weekends through the summer months with a similar schedule next year. The Berkshire Flyer will include a Friday afternoon departure from New York’s Penn Station to Pittsfield, MA, via Albany-Rensselaer, NY. A return trip will be provided on Sunday afternoons. Each train will make several station stops.
“We are pleased to work together with our partner agencies to run passenger train service between Pittsfield and New York City on weekends during the busiest tourist times this summer,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Western Massachusetts and the Berkshire Region offer a whole host of cultural and recreational opportunities during the summer and we hope this pilot service will encourage even more visitors to this part of our state.”
“I would like to thank officials in the Connecticut Valley Region for working with our Administration to launch this pilot passenger rail service,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “The Berkshire Flyer will make it easy for residents to travel to take advantage of opportunities to visit museums, attend concerts, shop, enjoy hiking and bicycling and enjoy all that Massachusetts has to offer.”
“Amtrak is excited to be able to provide this long-awaited service for our partners at MassDOT and NYSDOT,” said Amtrak President & CEO Stephen Gardner. “We’re appreciative of the support and cooperation of CSX for the Berkshire Flyer service, which will offer a more comfortable and convenient transportation option, that’s also more environmentally friendly, for people traveling between New York City and Berkshire County, along with easy access to musical performances at Tanglewood.”
The Berkshire Flyer pilot’s success will be evaluated to further understand the feasibility and demand of the service before continuing the service, deciding on its schedule if it is to continue, and identifying specific infrastructure improvements or service changes that may be necessary.
The Berkshire Flyer will depart from New York Penn Station at 3:16 p.m. on Fridays and arrive at Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center, 1 Columbus Ave, Pittsfield at 7:12 p.m. The train will make all the intermediate station stops as the typical Amtrak Empire Service train does on Fridays, which include Yonkers, NY, Croton-Harmon, NY, Poughkeepsie, NY, Rhinecliff, NY, Hudson, NY, and Albany-Rensselaer Station. The Sunday return trip, making all the same station stops, will depart Pittsfield at 3:00 p.m. and arrive in New York at 7:05 p.m.
“We are pleased to be collaborating with Amtrak, New York State and CSX to initiate the Berkshire Flyer rail service. This service is an example of how we can offer more transportation options and use our rail network to support Massachusetts communities and increase economic vitality in various regions, said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “We appreciate the efforts of municipal officials, members of the Massachusetts Legislature, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, CSX and the business community in supporting this environmentally-friendly and efficient alternative to driving.”
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez added, “Riding the rails is a great way to experience all the beauty and natural splendor that New York State and the entire Northeast Region has to offer, and we are proud to partner with our colleagues at Amtrak and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on this exciting service. Under Governor Kathy Hochul’s leadership, New York State is committed to creating a 21st Century transportation system that brings people together and creates economic opportunities for all and this new service is another step forward toward achieving that goal.”
“CSX will honor our commitment to pilot new passenger service, the Berkshire Flyer, that will run between New York City and Pittsfield, MA on our network this summer,” said Senior Director of Passenger Operations at CSX, Andy Daly. “CSX has a long history of working in partnership on projects that benefit both passenger and freight rail service and we are looking forward to soon bringing New England stakeholders a safer, more reliable freight rail network with our acquisition of Pan Am.”
“Passenger rail is an essential ingredient for a healthy economy, a healthy environment, and a healthy workforce,” said U.S. Senator Ed Markey. “Improving rail is an important step forward in combatting climate change, increasing economic opportunities, and allowing the tourism industry in the Berkshires to continue to flourish.”
“Berkshire County is home to art, culture, history, and hospitality, and the Berkshire Flier line will enable more people to experience it,” said Congressman Richard. E. Neal, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “I have been a proud supporter of this initiative from the start, and I am grateful to the folks at Amtrak, MassDOT, and NYSDOT for making it a reality.”
State Senator Adam Hinds added, “This critical link will boost our regional economy through tourism and by allowing us to base more remote workers in the Berkshires. This has been years in the making, and the Department of Transportation has been an outstanding partner.”
Efforts to evaluate passenger rail service between the Berkshires and New York have been ongoing since 2018, during which time pilot service has operated and conversations about the service have involved Berkshire County groups, municipal officials, and elected leaders. Amtrak, MassDOT, and NYSDOT have collaborated with CSX Transportation to prepare for the service’s start up this year after an agreement was reached with CSX to utilize its tracks.
Berkshire Flyer customers can expect the same amenities onboard as they do on all other Amtrak trains including, free Wi-Fi, the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times (no “airplane mode”), the ability to travel with small pets on many trains, large spacious seats with ample leg room, no middle seat, and one of the most generous baggage policies in the travel industry, applicable for two personal items and two carry-on bags.
Tickets are not yet available but will be sold beginning in May and can be available for purchase on Amtrak.com, the Amtrak app, Amtrak ticket desks and kiosks, and through 1-800-USA-RAIL.
For MassDOT information, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-department-of-transportation.
To learn more about NYSDOT, please visit: https://www.dot.ny.gov/index.
I believe that this pilot, weekend train between NYC and Pittsfield, the Berkshire Flyer, will be a great success!