Onus is still on HRC

Saturday May 5, 2012

The Housatonic Railroad Company and the Berkshire Scenic Railway could hardly be farther apart on the issues of safety that have regrettably fractured their relationship, perhaps beyond repair. The HRC clearly takes safety seriously, as it should, but if the Federal Railway Administration has no significant complaints with Berkshire Scenic there is no reason why an accommodation cannot be reached that keeps Berkshire Scenic in operation.

HRC executives insist that Berkshire Scenic, a nonprofit that hosted 16,000 passengers last year on its trips between Lenox and Stockbridge, has ongoing systemic failures that pose liability issues. Berkshire Scenic denies this categorically and observes that the FRA has found no such problems. The HRC counters that documentation is lacking on safety issues and the failure to find those problems calls the inspection process into question.

In the absence of evidence that the FRA is incompetent, the assertion by Pamela R. Green, an attorney for Berkshire Scenic, that "If there was a safety issue, FRA would have sidelined us," is the argument that carries the day. We again urge HRC, which has received state funding for track repairs during the course of its agreement with Berkshire Scenic, and needs good will and state funding to pursue its ambitious plans to extend passenger service from the Berkshires into Connecticut, to sit down with Berkshire Scenic and state officials, including Governor Patrick or a representative of his administration, and resolve these differences. Berkshire Scenic is an important component of the county tourist season and would be greatly missed.


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