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About the South Coast Rail project

Learn about the South Coast Rail project

The South Coast Rail project will restore commuter rail service between Boston and southeastern Massachusetts by the end of 2023. Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford are the only major cities within 50 miles of Boston that do not currently have commuter rail access to Boston. South Coast Rail will reconnect this region to jobs and generate economic development. Construction is beginning in 2020.

What’s New

On August 24, 2020, the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) awarded the second of two major contracts for South Coast Rail Phase 1. Together, these two contracts will build the entire Phase 1 corridor, including all six stations and the communications system for dispatch and Positive Train Control.

Both contracts will be underway by the end of 2020. See the press release and the Summer 2020 fact sheet for more information.

Project Overview

South Coast Rail will be built in phases. Phase 1 service will provide a one-seat ride by extending the existing Middleborough/Lakeville commuter rail service from Boston to Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford. It will deliver service to the South Coast late in 2023.

Elements of Phase 1:

  • Uses the Middleborough Secondary (currently a freight line) to provide service to Taunton, New Bedford, and Fall River. The Middleborough Secondary connects to Cotley Junction in East Taunton.
  • From Cotley Junction, Phase 1 trains will join the New Bedford Main Line and continue to New Bedford, or they will branch off on the Fall River Secondary to Fall River (this area is known as the Southern Triangle).
  • Will operate three morning peak trains and three evening peak trains to both New Bedford and Fall River.
  • Will operate up to six morning and six evening peak trains to Taunton and Middleborough because all of the trains will pass through these communities.

Benefits of Phase 1:

  • Reconstructs 12.1 miles of the Fall River Secondary
  • Reconstructs 24.1 miles of Middleborough Secondary and the New Bedford Main Line.
  • Improves freight service to the region and will provide redundancy for commuter rail riders once the Full Build is operating.

At the same time, MassDOT will proceed with designing, permitting and funding the Stoughton Straight Electric Alternative (Full Build Project), which was already reviewed under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). The Full Build Project will travel on the Stoughton Main Line and Northeast Corridor (north of Canton Junction). The Full Build presents more challenges related to wetland impacts, complex engineering, electrification and cost. An anticipated service start date will be developed as the project advances.

For more details, see the Phase 1 and Full Build corridor maps.

South Coast Rail will continue to have a robust public outreach program to ensure a transparent process and successful project outcome.

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