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North Adams, Adams to Announce Scenic Rail Partnership

Staff Reports
05:25PM / Wednesday, January 16, 2013
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The Berkshire Scenic Railway plans to operate a tourist line between North Adams and Adams. More than 16,000 people were riding the museum's summer lines annually in South County.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Passenger rail may still be years away, but short line scenic rail could be making a return — and soon.

The city has been working with several partners, including the town of Adams, the state Department of Transportation and Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum to develop tourist rail in the North County.

A press conference announcing the partnership and its goals is set for Friday, Jan. 18, at 1 p.m. at City Hall.

Mayor Richard Alcombright and Adams Town Administrator Jonathan Butler declined to provide details, saying that they would provided at the press conference.

They did confirm that the rail would be "downtown to downtown" and be operated by the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum.

The partners are expected to announce the development of a little-used line from Western Gateway Heritage State Park to the Adams Visitors Center.

The endeavor could draw tourist train traffic back to the state's "Western Gateway," and extend it to encompass the Mother Town to the south. The rail could work in conjunction with the extension of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, linking the two communities' downtowns by rail and trail.

It would also put the Berkshire Scenic Railway back on track, literally. The museum was forced to end its very popular summer runs between Lenox and Stockbridge after Housatonic Railroad Co. refused to renew a lease for their use with the state.

While Berkshire Scenic is continuing to develop its South County profile — it recently took control of the Stockbridge Station and still hopes to restore its runs — the North County connecton will allow it to operate trains.

The mayor had held out some hope of running scenic rail through the historic Hoosac Tunnel but now does not think that would be an option because liability and PanAm's intention to increase freight traffic.

Tags: Ashuwillticook Rail Trail,   Heritage State Park,   MassDOT,   passenger rail,   railway,   scenic rail,   visitors center,   

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