Massachusetts study for east-west rail on track

  • Sen. Jo Comerford STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • A train arrives at the Greenfield train station at the John W. Olver Transit Center on Olive Street in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/25/2019 5:31:54 PM

Both the state House and Senate have unanimously approved a study that could eventually lead to passenger rail service linking North Adams, Greenfield and Boston.

Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, presented a bill earlier this year to the Joint Committee on Transportation, asking that the study be done to pave the way for train travel from the western to eastern parts of the state.

There are already plans for expanded north-south connections from Greenfield to Connecticut and New York City. 

Comerford said she would like a study by the state Department of Transportation to see how feasible it would be to restore passenger rail from east to west. She currently travels Route 2 or the Mass Pike to get from Northampton to the State House. She said this would be another option for her and others.

Passenger rail service ran along the same route from 1875 to 1968. She said reviving it would not only make life easier for commuters but would cut down on the state’s carbon footprint.

The study will assess the costs of reviving the system, which might include rail repairs along the way. It would also project ridership levels and examine impacts to nearby towns; potential sources and availability of federal, state, local and private funding; and the resulting economic, employment, social and cultural benefits to the area, according to Comerford.

She said North Adams-to-Boston rail service would be a boon to Western Massachusetts and its workforce, allowing people to work in Boston and live in Western Massachusetts without long commutes each day.

Comerford has had support from other members of the Western Massachusetts delegation, including Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, and Reps. Paul Mark, D-Peru, and Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland.


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