Marshall Miles Interviews Karen Christensen of the Train Campaign


The Train Campaign – Bringing Back the Trains!

Engaging communities throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York with a vision for robust 21st-century passenger rail systems.  Our aim is to connect western Massachusetts and Connecticut to New York City with regional infrastructure for a sustainable future.


The Train Campaign. Bring back the trains.

Did you know that a passenger rail service existed between New York City, western Connecticut, and western Massachusetts until 1972?
It’s true, and the line, along with all of the infrastructure, is still there.


To foster a robust network of rail transportation options in Berkshire County, MA, Litchfield County, CT, and neighboring regions.


We believe that the future of rural America, as well as smaller cities and towns, depends on the connectivity offered by freight and passenger rail because rail supports jobs and connects people. We believe in the long-term benefits of rail-oriented development:

  • Supporting existing businesses and a vibrant retail environment
  • Attracting tourists, new permanent residents, and job-creating entrepreneurs
  • Reducing carbon emissions while supporting agriculture and light industry
  • Creating economic opportunity for everyone, including those without cars
  • Nurturing resilient 21st-century rural communities as well as global cities


The Train Campaign works to educate citizens, business leaders, stakeholder organizations, and public officials and to engage them in its mission to foster a robust network of rail transportation options in Berkshire County, MA, Litchfield County, CT, and neighboring regions. The Campaign is developing templates that will help similar initiatives that are part of the growing national and international movement to bring back the trains.

Projected benefits from restored passenger service on the Berkshire (Housatonic) Line:

  • Increased total economic output in the region. The increase during the first decade of the project would total in excess of $625 million dollars additional goods and services produced and sold in the region.
  • This increase in economic activity in the region would bring an average of 610 new jobs to the region (with a maximum of 733 jobs during the initial construction and upgrade of the railroad)
  • The increase in economic activity in the region would provide Connecticut and Massachusetts state governments, and local governments in the region with nearly $29.5 million in additional tax revenues during the first decade of the project
  • During the first decade the affected region would provide the federal government with an additional $55 million in tax revenues
  • The value of residential properties located relatively close to (within a few miles of) the passenger stations for the railroad would increase modestly, generating at least $310 million in additional wealth for property owners, and possibly as much as $619 million. Because these impacts will be spread along the entire region, these changes are not expected to generate significant changes in broad land use patterns (although there may be some changes very near the stations)
  • The availability of passenger rail service and anticipated levels of demand will reduce automobile traffic on local and regional roadways, saving nearly $1.4 million during the first decade of the project.
  • The availability of passenger rail service and anticipated levels of demand will reduce fatal automobile accidents, saving the lives of an expected 8 persons during the first decade of the project and reducing associated costs of fatal accidents by $7.2 million during the first decade of the project.
  • Passenger rail service has much lower impact on the climate than private automobile travel. The availability of passenger rail service, along with the expected levels of utilization of the service, would reduce global warming and result in a reduction of global mean temperature of 2.2 x 10-7 degrees Celsius.

Economic Benefits of Housatonic Railroad Passenger ServiceCenter for Creative Community Development, 2011.

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The Train Campaign: Bring Back the Trains from Diana Walczak


1 reply

  1. As much as Karen deserves great credit for her persevering efforts to restore passenger service on the old New Haven Railroad’s Berkshire Line, it just will not happen any time soon. Reasons include the expense for the state of Connecticut ( which owns the rail route and leases it to the freight only Housatonic Railroad) to bring the rail line up to passenger train standards, the federally mandated requirement for the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on all passenger lines(very expensive to install), the purchase of suitable equipment to equip the train sets, and the prevailing notion in the governing circles of Connecticut, who control the state’s distressed budget, that after all this expenditure, Massachusetts will be the overwhelming recipient of the economic benefits of the restoration of passenger service on this line at Connecticut’s expense.

    Having said this, all the other alternative routes under discussion, ie. the partnership with Amtrak to run a “Berkshire Flyer” from Pittsfield to NYC via Albany which will take over four hours each way to include a train switch over in Albany, is just not attractive to travelers. Consequently, the only route that makes any kind of sense is the restoration of the Berkshire line and for the reasons enumerated above, this won’t happen anytime soon in Connecticut. I have spoken to the relevant state authorities about this topic.

    I wish this were not the case, but anything else is tilting at windmills and is currently just wishful thinking.

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