customer service/emergencies
call (860) 824-0850

News / Press
For immediate release Info: Colin Pease 978 371 8046
February 8, 2011

Following the completion of its privately financed market analysis that determined it is feasible to run a privately operated rail passenger service between The Berkshires, western Connecticut and New York City, Housatonic is launching a research study to estimate the benefits of the proposed service to communities along the line. Completion of a benefits analysis is an essential component when seeking federal loans or grants for rail passenger services.

To perform the study the railroad is working with Professor Stephen Sheppard of Williams College. Professor Sheppard has published numerous papers and performed numerous studies to determine the impact of many factors on development in communities. His many works include a study evaluating “The Benefits of Transport Improvements in a City with Efficient Development Control.” He has extensive knowledge about the region to be served by the proposed train including specific work to evaluate the value of investments in the Colonial Theater in Pittsfield and the economic value of The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) on the region.

Professor Sheppard’s study will focus on five primary impacts of the proposed service:
1. Increased income generation and employment opportunities due to both capital investments in rail infrastructure and passenger operations.
2. Increased tourism and patronage of travel destinations in the region
3. Increased demand for second homes in the region
4. Potential for decreased travel and congestion on local roadways, with consequent public savings.
5. Environmental benefits resulting from increased use of rail transport instead of the automobile.

The study will provide communities in the region with sound information from which they can determine how the proposed service will impact their communities. It will also enable the Housatonic Railroad and public agencies to calculate how the service will benefit the public and equally important benefit the railroad. The benefit calculations will provide some guidance regarding how capital costs for the creation of the service could be shared between the railroad and various public entities and they will support efforts by the railroad to secure long term financing for the project.

Once completed Professor Sheppard’s study will be available to the public and will be shared with governmental agencies in Massachusetts and Connecticut, regional planning agencies, numerous interest groups along the route and it will be made available on the railroad’s web site
The study is being financed privately.

About the Housatonic Railroad

The original Housatonic Railroad was chartered in 1836 and was acquired by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in 1892. At that time, the railroad was 175 miles long, with 60 passenger depots. The last passenger train ran on April 30, 1971. The railroad was then land-banked until 1983 when the line from Canaan to New Milford, Connecticut was reopened and the Housatonic Railroad name was used again. The railroad expanded to Pittsfield, MA in 1991 and expanded again in 1992 to include the line from Derby, Connecticut to Beacon, New York. The railroad now consists of 161 miles of rail lines devoted to freight transportation and is working to reinstitute passenger service between Danbury, CT and Pittsfield, MA.


Posted: 2011-02-09