• Taking Amtrak to the Berkshires (and an alternative)

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. Safetee, you raise a good point regarding the "dog leg" routing. But so long as there is not an "Interstate 189" roundly paralleling US7 (and will never be insofar as Litchfield County CT is concerned) highway access from NY City to the region is , shall we say, "impaired".

No doubt, that is why the New Haven/PC "The Berkshire" hung on until "The End", or otherwise A-Day Eve.
  by Railjunkie
 
Safetee wrote: Mon Jul 18, 2022 12:37 pm So, how many hundred boarded the train yesterday for the return to Gotham?
Thirty folks went to Pittsfield Friday. I will take a S.W.A.G. and say not many, as in under thirty. Saw the train on Sunday didn't look terribly busy. However I didn't see a manifest for the count. That train was AMT244 which on Sundays was normally SRO by the time it arrived in Hudson not sure how Amtrak is blocking seats for the PIT ALB and south side of things
  by Safetee
 
the people supporting this train are basing their support purely on the perception of the niceness of train service as opposed to meeting the demands of an actual market driven service.

Being honest for a moment, damn few people from nyc have ever heard of pittsfield much less want to go there. the big draw for nyc riders is to places like lenox, lee, great barrington etc.

the current shortest route by train from nyc to those hallowed berkshire places goes to Hudson and from there they can drive or take a cab to their destinations. Exiting at hudson is in fact a far superior 7 day a week option without having to stay on the train from hudson up to albany/rens and then over from albany/rens to pittsfield, and then from pittsfield finally down to lenox etc by pov or cab.

Perhaps the Berkshire Flyer should be renamed the Quixotic Zephyr ?.
  by BandA
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Sun Jul 17, 2022 11:20 am
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sun Jul 17, 2022 8:41 am
bostontrainguy wrote: Sun Jul 17, 2022 8:22 am Why aren't the Powers That Be advocating for the return of the Cape Codder?
Off topic, but isn't there a weekend "Cape Cod Flyer"?

Or did that get the "COVID Scrub"?
You're talking about the CapeFLYER which is operating. https://capeflyer.com/
The Cape Flyer is another train which, like the Berkshire Flyer is probably not well marketed by Massachusetts. In order to take the Cape Flyer from the NYC area you would have to take the Acela or Northeast Regional & change trains at Boston South Station. Great if you want to visit both Boston AND Cape Cod and don't want to drive. Contrast this with the Amtrak Capecodder which continued east from Providence over freight secondaries to get to the Cape Main line. I doubt people in NYC know of the Cape Flyer. Samples from the end of May showed 88-100+ passengers post1598485.html#p1598485 Amtrak Capecodder is recent enough that the passenger counts are worth comparing.

Which is more exciting to someone in the NY area? The Berkshires, Cape Cod, Catskills, Adirondack, Vermont, or Long Island?
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
BandA wrote: Tue Jul 19, 2022 7:00 pm Contrast this with the Amtrak Capecodder which continued east from Providence over freight secondaries to get to the Cape Main line.
Mr. B&A, why don't we also throw in addition to a Day Cape Codder, the Night Cape Codder, and top it all off, the weekend Neptune?

I'll bet Cape Air handles more passengers in their "puddle jumpers" than all of those trains combined would today:

https://youtu.be/sKJDTsThXcc

Incidentially, during '09, I flew KBOS to KACK in one of such. An experience; but not for the "won't flys".
  by BandA
 
If you plug JFK-Hyannis into Kayak for 7/22-7/24, it gives you $120 roundtrip and 6:15 via Peter Pan bus, or $618 and 1:03 roundtrip via JetBlue. So the old time vs. money, Mr Norman. Amtrak train would be $317 or more roundtrip and 3:39 to 4+ hours, Cape Flyer would be $40 roundtrip and about 2:30 each way.

More back on subject, NY - Pittsfield, Kayak one-way, 7/22, $123 and 3:25 via bus from NYPA or $182 and 3:57 from NYP Amtrak, with a return trip Pittsfield to NYP Amtrak $123 4:00. I didn't see a plane option for Pittsfield!!
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Lest we forget, Mr. B&A, to the people who have occasion to go up that way, especially from NY, it's a "money; what's that."

They just get out that plastic thing (I understand they won't even have to do that soon as facial recognition becomes more "main line"), could care less about a printed or any kind of receipt, and the bill is just paid by an ACH debit to a bank account.

On the receipts thing, it seems like at more fast food restaurants - at least those I go to - than not, you must ask for one. Whatever happened to the days of "if we fail to give you a receipt, it's free"?

But to close back on the rails, since it appears the B&A is the only "through" means of transport (and why the New Haven hung on until "The End" - and why some agency or the other has visions of a "resurrection" over that sorry excuse Housatonic RR), I guess it figures that some rail transport agency would "give it a try". I was unaware until Mr. B&A's immediate, that there was no scheduled air service to KPSF and Pittsfield is "not exactly" on any Interstate highway.
  by daybeers
 
I fear this will have the same outcome of the Valley Flyer service: not marketed at all, too expensive, especially last-minute, low frequency, with fringe use cases.

Honestly, the replacement of old, unreliable, slow, loud, belching diesels with the smooth, quiet, clean electric M8s on the Shore Line East makes it like a new rail line. CTDOT has done a terrible job of marketing it and I fear the service will be scrapped eventually judging by how high the per passenger subsidy is. Sad, as it's become my favorite line in CT and offers the best scenery on the entire corridor with those large windows triple the size of Amfleets. Such a nicer experience than Amtrak actually.
  by Safetee
 
The Berkshire feasibility study is a typical consultant attempting to please clients special report with information derived to paint a picture that sez yes we can do a train from nyc to pittsfield all based on a series of whatifs, thisses, thatses, not to mention a trainload of swags and graphs.
The initial premise is to compare the "successful" operation of the weekend Cape Cod Flyer between Boston and Hyannis to the proposed Berkshire Flyer from NYC to Pittsfield. The Cape Cod Flyer isn't exactly a sro operation either but, ................there are many people in the city of Boston who are heading to the Cape who actually do want to go to Hyannis by train.
The same logic doesn't work for the Berkshire Flyer because the bulk of the folks who want to go to Berkshire County do not in fact want to go to Pittsfield. Which is to say that while Hyannis is in fact an actual desirable destination for would be rail travelers, Pittsfield is not.
The report also highlights the success of trains going to Freeport Maine from Boston. Make no mistake, I know Freeport Maine, and Pittsfield is no Freeport.
In fairness, the Berkshire report does address the needs for success by looking at providing additional services, changes in infrastructure, possibility of eliminating stops on the empire route, adding transfer transportation services at Pittsfield etc etc. But the bottom line still is the fact that at the end of the ride just about nobody wants to go to or stay in Pittsfield.
As many of us know, if in fact the powers that be In Pittsfield really really want a rail economic lifeline from NYC, then maybe they ought to be looking at talking Mass DOT into working with ConnDOT into rebuilding the line from Danbury to Pittsfield with stops at Great Barrington, Lee, and Lenox. They might not end up with a run away winner with direct service from GCT to Danbury to Pittsfield but at least they wouldn't be betting on the current run away loser on the old B&A.
  by cle
 
Safetee wrote: Wed Jul 20, 2022 10:49 am The Berkshire feasibility study is a typical consultant attempting to please clients … (edited for brevity by an Admin) .
I think that is so so unlikely. As is Wassaic - Millerton - Chatham which is another option for the Berkshires - could end at Chatham, or continue on to Pittsfield.

Chatham via Albany is too long, but via Millerton is at least direct. Who knows.

It's been a week. SLE has been like two. Let's give these things a chance to bed in and socialize a bit. The improvements on the Albany - Boston line overall in the coming years will benefit this immensely, as would anything Empire south of Albany - although those also ironically make Hudson an ever more appealing hub for the region.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. CLE lest we forget Dover Plains-Chatham was chopped up during '80. Passenger service lasted for about a year after A-Day, as there was a dispute if such was "intercity" or "commuter". A court ruled it was "intercity", Amtrak wanted no part of it, and that was that.

The ruling that it was intercity, came during the day, and at the next station a train enroute put its passengers off - and otherwise "stranded".

Now I'm not certain where those touting Hudson as "the Gateway to the Berkshires" are coming from? NY66 then NY295 are both two lane highways and posted 55mph. The attractions such as Stockbridge, Tanglewood (Lenox), ski lodges, are all along the New Haven, so to get to any of such, be prepared to rent an auto at Pittsfield.

Now really, that consultant's "coloring book" aside, if there is to be meaningful rail service again to the region for its many attractions, it will have to be over a revitalized New Haven. Even the "back in my day" Berkshire Division's 50mph max speed was time competitive with "stuck behind a semi" US 7. Normally, SKS has Alumni Weekends for Classes every five years, but next year is the School's Centenary, and even if out of cycle for my Class, God willing I'm going back. So firsthand I "know all about" US 7 through Litchfield County CT.

Now, Summer '61 after graduation, I accepted an offer from SKS for a Summer Job. One evening, I drove from South Kent to Tanglewood to hear the Boston Symphony - and back. Well, only a 19yo kid with his love of Classical Music would do that, but trust me US7 is no better North of Kent than South of there. Presume Mr. Moore, originally from that area, will agree.

And remember, there will NEVER be an I-289 (think that is what it would be numbered) through Litchfield County.
  by R Paul Carey
 
The question of rail passenger transportation between the New York Metropolitan area and the Berkshire Hills, as a destination reached via Rensselaer and Pittsfield, has produced a clearly sub-optimal "trial" with little chance of success by any measure, IMO. These mid-route points do NOT add value to the market this trial seeks to serve.

The flaw derives from the premise this is "intercity" service and therefore only to be considered as an undertaking for Amtrak. This 50-year-old assumption must be revisited, once the current trial funds are exhausted and the consultants dismissed, who should be complimented for having successfully discovered a scheme that does not - and cannot be made - to work!!

The next trial (if there is one) should be "anchored" at GCT and operated via Danbury (or eventually Brewster and Danbury if a direct connection can be justified). This trial need not necessarily be extended so far as Pittsfield (or MA), IMO, as dedicated connecting bus could be arranged if needed for passengers traveling to/from MA points.

Equipment is a consideration. This service however, at the minimum, should provide for single-seat service and a second daily train operated as incremental extensions of existing service, allowing same-day round-trip travel between both ends.

Are CDOT and MTA listening?
  by ExCon90
 
I think the quandary here is how to persuade Massachusetts to spend money on track improvements in Connecticut, and Connecticut to fund improvements to help New Yorkers bring money to Massachusetts. This may require the formation of a bi-state commission to finance and manage the project; just think of the well-paying jobs that would create ...
  by STrRedWolf
 
ExCon90 wrote: Sat Jul 23, 2022 9:54 pm I think the quandary here is how to persuade Massachusetts to spend money on track improvements in Connecticut, and Connecticut to fund improvements to help New Yorkers bring money to Massachusetts. This may require the formation of a bi-state commission to finance and manage the project; just think of the well-paying jobs that would create ...
Considering what's going on with the MBTA, that will be a bit of a hard sell.
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