Car 6126 has very likely ridden along the tracks in Berkshire County already.
ADAMS, Mass. — Berkshire Scenic Railway has purchased a vintage rail car to run on the planned Hoosac Valley line.
The organization recently closed a deal to buy a 1955 Budd Rail Diesel Car — a former Boston and Maine car that likely transported passengers through the Berkshires. Packing some 550 horsepower through two diesel, six-cylinder engines, the bidirectional rail car gives the organization another option for the North County expansion.
"This will be used for special events," said Berkshire Scenic Director Jay Green on Thursday. "It is in very good shape."
The organization found the car for sale from a private individual in Maine. Budd Cars were first made in the late 1940s when passenger levels began to decrease. The cars require little manpower to run and were developed in a partnership between the Philadelphia-based Budd Co. and General Motors. They were mostly eyed for passenger transportation in rural areas and short commutes.
Budd Car 6126, the one purchased by Berkshire Scenic, was built in 1955 and operated by the Boston and Maine Railroad for more than 20 years. In 1976, it operated as a commuter car for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority. In 1989, it was sold to the Cape Cod Railroad, where it was used for tourist excursions like the ones Berkshire Scenic plans on running between Adams and North Adams. In 1999, the Belfast and Moosehead Railroad in Maine bought it and operated it much the same before it went into private ownership in 2011.
"It was the type of equipment people saw and rode in at that time," Green said. "We think it will be a perfect fit for our operations here."
Not only is the car the same type that used to carry passengers through the Hoosac Tunnel, Green says there is a "very strong chance" that this particular car did so. Green doesn't know for certain Budd Car 6126 has traveled in the Berkshires before but others with the same history certainly have.
"We want to expose younger generations to what it was like to railroad in its heyday," Green said.
But it wasn't just about finding the period piece for the excursions. Green said the purchase is "practical" for the operations. The car is simple to operate, safe, can run in either direction and provides aspects others cars the organization plans to run doesn't — such as air conditioning for the very hot days.
The car will be used for special events on the new Hoosac Valley Service.
"We've been looking for the right piece," he said. "They're difficult to find."
When the Hoosac Valley Service gets going, the organization will primarily use two diesel electric locomotives and four passenger rail cars to transport passengers. The Budd Car will used for special events and on days when ridership is light.
"It is not going to replace our plans to bring up other equipment," Green said.
Meanwhile, the organization is still in the process of converting a Baltimore & Ohio Combine 1444 coach car into a ticketing booth for the North Adams side of the line. That will feature a "theater" area in the rear where the organization is considering placing a flat-panel television to show programs emphasizing its history and that of the local area, ticketing and information.
"That car will serve as the welcome booth. We've been working on it steadily," he said.
The timetable for the rides is still unknown as the state works toward purchasing and rebuilding the line from Hoosac Street in Adams to American Legion Drive in North Adams. The state Department of Transportation is building both the rail line and the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail extension together.
Green says the organization is preparing for runs this summer or fall but that depends on the state's progress. Recently, the organization received a $200,000 grant to help with the preparations, including renovating the ticketing car.
"We're doing everything we need to do to be ready," he said.