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Gov. Patrick, MassDOT officials tour Housatonic line for possible passenger service

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and state transportation officials earlier this week toured the Housatonic Railroad Line. State officials are considering a proposal to return passenger-rail service to the route.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard Davey and other MassDOT officials joined Patrick on Tuesday for a 37-mile tour to observe the line's condition in key areas, Patrick administration officials said in a press release.

The Housatonic Railroad, which runs from Pittsfield to Sheffield at the Massachusetts-Connecticut state border, currently is used for freight service between Pittsfield and points south into Connecticut. A proposal to return passenger-rail service to the 90-mile corridor between Pittsfield and Danbury, Conn., has been discussed for the past several years. In Danbury, riders could connect with MTA Metro-North Railroad.

Restoring passenger-rail service would cost about $113 million for track rehabilitation, signal system installation, grade crossing improvements, and construction or reconstruction of six stations along the corridor within Massachusetts, administration officials said.

Although Massachusetts could afford the investment on its end, Connecticut also would have to commit to sharing in the cost in order for passenger service to reach New York City, Patrick said after the tour, according to local news media reports.

In January, MassDOT received federal highway discretionary funds to support a station location and design analysis study for passenger service.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/2/2013