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Commission holds first meeting on train service between Boston and the Berkshires

Passengers board Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited after it arrives in Springfield, Massachusetts, on February 10, 2020.
Alden Bourne
Passengers board Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited after it arrives in Springfield, Massachusetts, on February 10, 2020.

A committee focused on train service between western Massachusetts and Boston held a hearing in Pittsfield Friday.

It was the first of six planned public meetings by the Western Massachusetts Passenger Rail Commission.

One of their tasks is to recommend an entity that would oversee the service.

It's also following up on findings from the East-West Passenger Rail Study Advisory Committee, which met a few years ago.

The commission took public testimony.

Michael Leary, with Berkshire Health Systems, said new rail service would not just help patients get to Boston when they need to but help with recruiting doctors as well.

"A lot of providers want to have ease of access to New York, to Boston, to Springfield, to Albany," he said. "This would greatly help our recruitment efforts."

Pittsfield resident Alisa Costa stressed the importance of the commission hearing from diverse viewpoints.

"Bringing in people specifically who are disabled, who are older, who can't drive, who are struggling economically, will give you better data in making your plan," she said.

The commission's final report is due to the state next spring.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.

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