Amtrak’s Berkshire Flyer passenger train service begins July 8

Pilot seasonal passenger rail service has been announced by Amtrak in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT).

Rail service will operate this year and in 2023 as the Berkshire Flyer, with a route between New York and Pittsfield, Mass.

The service will launch on July 8 and will operate on weekends during the summer months with a similar schedule next year. The Berkshire Flyer will include a Friday afternoon departure from New York Penn Station to Pittsfield via Albany-Rensselaer, NY. A return trip will be operated on Sunday afternoon. Each train will make several stops at the station.

“We are excited to work with our partner agencies to provide weekend passenger train service between Pittsfield and New York during peak tourist times this summer,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said. “Western Massachusetts and the Berkshire area offer a wealth 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.”

Amtrak President and CEO Stephen Gardner added, “Amtrak is thrilled to be able to provide this long-awaited service to our partners at MassDOT and NYSDOT. We appreciate CSX’s support and cooperation for the Berkshire Flyer service, which will provide a more comfortable and convenient transportation option that is also more environmentally friendly for people traveling between New York and Berkshire County, as well as easy access to musical performances. at Tanglewood.

The success of the Berkshire Flyer pilot will be assessed to better understand the feasibility and demand for the service before continuing the service, deciding on its timeline whether to continue, and identifying specific infrastructure improvements or service changes that might be needed.

The Berkshire Flyer will depart New York Penn Station at 3:16 p.m. on Friday and arrive at the Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center, 1 Columbus Ave, Pittsfield at 7:12 p.m. The train will make all mid-station stops like the Empire Amtrak typical. The train service does Fridays which includes Yonkers, NY, Croton-Harmon, NY, Poughkeepsie, NY, Rhinecliff, NY, Hudson, NY and Albany-Rensselaer Station. The Sunday round 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.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez added, “Taking the rails is a great way to experience all the beauty and natural splendor that New York State and the entire North East have to offer, and we are proud to partner with our colleagues. at Amtrak and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on this exciting service. Below [New York] Governor Kathy Hochul’s leadership of New York State is committed to creating a 21st century transportation system that brings people together and creates economic opportunity for all and this new service is another step towards the achievement of this objective.

Efforts to assess passenger rail service between the Berkshires and New York have been underway since 2018, during which time a pilot service ran and conversations about the service involved Berkshire County groups, city officials and residents. elected. Amtrak, MassDOT and NYSDOT worked with CSX Transportation to prepare for service to start this year after an agreement was reached with CSX to use its tracks.

Berkshire Flyer customers can expect the same onboard amenities as on all other Amtrak trains, including free Wi-Fi, the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times, the ability to travel with small pets on many trains, large spacious seats with ample legroom, no middle seat and a generous baggage policy, applicable for two personal effects and two carry-on bags.

Tickets are not yet available but will go on sale beginning in May and can be purchased on Amtrak.com, the Amtrak app, Amtrak ticket offices and kiosks, and through 1-800-USA-RAIL.

Jose P. Rogers