New England News
6:24 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

MassDOT Buys Housatonic Rail Line To Establish Passenger Service To NYC

Governor Patrick joined state officials and others in Pittsfield after riding the rails from the Connecticut border along the Housatonic Railroad last July.
Governor Patrick joined state officials and others in Pittsfield after riding the rails from the Connecticut border along the Housatonic Railroad last July.
Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has purchased 37 miles of railroad line from Pittsfield to the Connecticut border. The state is calling it a major step toward establishing passenger rail service from western Massachusetts to New York City.

The agreement includes $12 million to acquire the line from the Housatonic Railroad Company and $35 million for initial track improvements, according to a DOT press release. Governor Deval Patrick rode into Pittsfield via the rail line last July.

“The maximum potential is to be able to go all the way to New York [City] not just to the Connecticut line,” said Patrick.

$113 million to buy and improve the tracks was included in a 2014 transportation bond bill passed by the state Legislature. MassDOT says initial improvements will allow for passenger rail in Massachusetts, but the tracks will carry freight until the Connecticut portion, which is yet to be acted on, is improved.