Hoosac Tunnel open again after 'partial' collapse in February

Pan Am Railways traffic resumed through the Hoosac Tunnel on Saturday after a "parcial wall collapse" closed the tunnel in February.

NORTH ADAMS — After seven weeks of work and traffic delays caused by a "partial wall collapse," trains are again running through the Hoosac Tunnel.

"The Hoosac Tunnel is open," said Cynthia Scarano, executive vice president for Pan Am Railways, which owns the tunnel. Rail traffic resumed Saturday night, though the project remains in progress.

Crews have been working to repair the tunnel since the collapse in February that was caused by "structural wear and tear."

The tunnel has been an east-west shortcut for trains through the Hoocac Range on the New York-Massachusetts border since it opened in 1875.

The Norfolk Southern Railway, which partners with Pan Am on the use of the tunnel, posted a statement on its website:

"The Hoosac Tunnel, on Norfolk Southern's partner line, Pan Am Southern, which affects all trains operating between Mechanicville, New York, and Ayer, Massachusetts, was restored to service last night, Saturday, April 4. There will be some ongoing engineering work consisting of 12-hour outages for the month of April which could cause delay to some shipments."

During the 12-hour closures, Scarano said, further engineering will be done and inspection of the entire tunnel will be conducted to identify any needs for corrective engineering that will avoid future wall collapse or other issues.

"Thankfully now we're able to avoid incurring further delays for our customers, who will have more direct delivery routes again," she said.

The 4.9-mile tunnel opened to great fanfare in 1875, touted as the longest train tunnel at the time, a quicker east-west route to Boston, and as a wondrous feat of engineering. There have been occassional maintenance issues over the years, including a similar incident that closed the tunnel in 1972.

She noted that there are about eight trains that run through the tunnel on a daily basis, going both ways.

Pan Am Railways is based in Billerica.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.