Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Historic Agreement with CSX Transportation to Purchase Rail Lines
Sens. Kerry, Kennedy and Rep. McGovern Laud Immediate Boost to Commuter Rail Service to Worcester
The agreement includes the addition of five commuter trains that will serve Worcester, while leaving open the possibility of additional trains as rail capacity is created. In addition, it will facilitate the Patrick-Murray Administration's plan to extend commuter rail service to New Bedford and Fall River, provide the potential for even more commuter service for Worcester, and create the ability of area companies to ship or receive products on double-stack rail cars. Double-stack rail cars carry containers that would otherwise move by truck on already-crowded highways.
"This is an historic day for all of Massachusetts, and most especially for Worcester and the South Coast," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, who has been working on this issue since he was Mayor of Worcester and led the negotiations with CSXT on behalf of the administration. "Thanks to our partners, Senator Kerry and Congressman McGovern, we've reached an agreement that increases commuter options and ultimately could make Worcester the new rail hub of New England. We appreciate CSXT staying at the table and making this happen."
"This agreement marks a milestone in the public transportation history of Massachusetts, a history which for the people of Central and Southeastern Massachusetts had been marked by decades of insufficient rail service," Senator Kerry said. "This agreement is the result of months of intense negotiations between CSXT and federal and state officials and it has the potential to provide an economic boost to the entire Commonwealth. I also can't say enough about the efforts of Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and Congressman Jim McGovern in helping to get this deal done; they've worked tirelessly for years on improving commuter rail service to Central and Southeastern Massachusetts and really delivered for their communities."
"As a strong supporter of better public transit, Senator Kennedy is very pleased by the agreement between the Commonwealth and CSX," said spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner. "Increased commuter service is vital for state's economic future, and this agreement will have an immediate impact on the frequency of service between Boston and Worcester. He especially commends Governor Patrick, Lt. Governor Murray, Senator Kerry, and Representative McGovern for their effective leadership."
"This is an important day for the people of Massachusetts," said U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, who was also an integral part of making this agreement a reality. "These have been tough negotiations, but this agreement has been worth the hard work. Increasing the capacity of commuter rail service from Worcester to Boston, and to the South Coast, is essential for our transportation system and for economic development in the Commonwealth. I particularly want to commend Senator Kerry and Lieutenant Governor Murray for their determination and leadership on this issue. And I want to thank CSX for their willingness to work with us."
"Commuter rail is an important part of the Governor's statewide transportation plan to relieve congestion," said Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen. "Reaching agreement on important terms for four strategic rail assets, including the CSXT-owned portion of the lines to the South Coast, moves a top priority, South Coast Rail, one step closer to reality."
"We salute the vision and perseverance of Massachusetts leaders at every level of government," said Ward. "The entire nation is recognizing the benefits of freight railroads to the environment, the economy and traffic conditions on our highways. One train can carry the load of 280 trucks and is three to four times more fuel efficient. The Massachusetts plan turns existing freight rail infrastructure into a 21st century solution for both commuters and businesses."
The main elements of the plan are as follows:
- The MBTA will extend five Framingham-Boston commuter trains to Worcester on CSX Transportation's Boston line by October 27. At a future date - subject to the completion of other elements of the total plan - the Commonwealth will purchase CSXT's rights in the Boston to Worcester line, increasing the potential for additional commuter service while also taking control of dispatching and maintenance on the line.
- To accommodate double-stack freight trains, the Commonwealth and CSXT will, as soon as possible, begin increasing the vertical clearances of bridges along the railroad main line between I-495 and the New York state line. The Commonwealth will assume responsibility for raising highway bridges, while CSXT will be responsible for lowering tracks.
- By June 2009, the Commonwealth will purchase from CSXT the New Bedford-Fall River Line along with CSXT's rights in the Boston Terminal Running Track and West First Street Yard in South Boston and the Grand Junction secondary line that extends from Beacon Park Yard through Cambridge.
- To create capacity for additional commuter rail services over time, the Commonwealth is investigating whether it can help CSXT to relocate the company's locomotive service facility out of Boston in the near term. Ultimately, subject to the completion of other elements of the rail plan, CSXT also plans to move its operations out of Beacon Park. In both cases, the locations are yet to be determined.