The relatively new Amtrak route connects New York City to the Berkshires in Massachusetts.
Amtrak’s Berkshire Flyer doesn’t run year-round, but when it’s in operation, it's a hot ticket — especially among New Yorkers looking to escape the summer heat. This year, the train will travel between New York City and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, all summer long. The season kicks off on May 26 in time for Memorial Day weekend and runs until Oct. 9 (Indigenous Peoples' Day weekend), according to the Berkshire tourism website.
Tickets are expected to sell quickly — with good reason. The Berkshire Flyer makes it easy for New Yorkers to skip the traffic on the New York State Thruway while making their summer escape from the city.
Every Friday, the Berkshire Flyer will leave New York City and head north, traveling through the lush Hudson Valley on its four-hour journey to the Berkshires. On Sundays, the journey happens in reverse, with the train leaving the Pittsfield station in the afternoon and arriving in New York City that evening.
This season marks the second year of the Berkshire Flyer’s pilot run — it made its debut in July 2022. “The Berkshire Flyer pilot’s success will be evaluated to further understand the feasibility and demand of the service before continuing the service, deciding on its schedule if it is to continue, and identifying specific infrastructure improvements or service changes that may be necessary," said Amtrak in an April 2022 press release.
Here’s what you need to know to best experience this popular Amtrak pilot route.
Highlights on Amtrak’s Berkshire Flyer
The fun starts at Moynihan Train Hall in New York City’s Pennsylvania Station. The brand-new, glass-ceiling train hall, which opened in early 2021 is set in a renovated 100-year-old post office. It is the perfect setting for the start of a train journey to the Berkshires.
From Penn Station, the Berkshire Flyer heads north along the Hudson River. The train’s first stop is in Yonkers before it continues north to the village of Croton-on-Hudson, home to the wildly scenic Croton Gorge. The train continues along the river, making brief stops in Poughkeepsie and Rhinecliff before reaching Hudson, which is nicknamed “upstate’s favorite downtown” and provides easy access to the adventures to be had in Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
The Berkshire Flyer continues its journey on the eastern side of the Hudson River until it reaches Rensselaer, near Albany, where it begins its journey south and east toward Massachusetts.
The trip ends just over the New York-Massachusetts border in the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the largest city in Berkshire County. The sprawling city is the gateway to the Berkshires, a rural region that’s dotted with picturesque villages and boasts some of the East Coast’s best fall foliage.
In addition to a thriving arts community and renowned farm-to-table dining, the Tanglewood music venue in Lenox, Massachusetts, has been the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937 and hosts live music and events all summer long.
Seating on Amtrak’s Berkshire Flyer
Since the Berkshire Flyer route is short — at just over four hours — the seating options are simple. Travelers can choose between coach and business class. The former includes reclining seats with plenty of legroom and perks like reading lights and electrical outlets. There are no middle seats on board.
The business-class seating boasts extra legroom, a wider seat, and complimentary non-alcoholic beverages. Business-class bookings are fully refundable if canceled prior to departure.
Regardless of your booking class, it’s worth remembering that on the journey north between New York City and Pittsfield, the train travels on the eastern side of the Hudson River, so those who want river views will want to book a seat on the left side of the train. On the journey south, between Pittsfield and New York City, the river views will be best for travelers seated on the right side of the train.
Dining and Perks on Amtrak’s Berkshire Flyer
There’s no cafe car on the Berkshire Flyer, so bring along a water bottle and if you think you’ll be hungry on the four-hour journey, pack a snack.
Other than the lack of food, the Berkshire Flyer offers standard Amtrak train amenities — including free Wi-Fi, spacious seats, and a generous baggage and pet policy.
Tips for Travelers on Amtrak’s Berkshire Flyer
Since the Berkshire Flyer departs New York City on Friday afternoon, you can expect to arrive in Pittsfield on Friday evening. Weekend travelers will need to be back at the Pittsfield station by Sunday afternoon for the trip home.
Those who want more than a two-night stay, but are unable to stay a full week, will want to book tickets over Memorial Day or Labor Day weekends, when the train makes its return journey on Monday, rather than Sunday, according to the Berkshire tourism website.
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