Agreement reached to create east-west rail in Massachusetts

Agreement reached to create east-west rail in Massachusetts


Gov. Baker is reportedly fully committed to the project.

Union stop in Springfield Lane Turner / The Boston Globe

A long-hypothesizedv idea that could transform the scenery of Massachusetts is closer to execution than ever before.

State House News Service (SHNS) reported Tuesday that federal and state officials came to an agreement on how to create an east-west passenger rail line that would connect the eastern and western parts of the state.

SHNS reported that Gov. Charlie Baker and Richard Neal, the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’ first district — which covers all of western Massachusetts — spoke to reporters after a meeting at Springfield’s Union stop.

They reportedly described creating a new rail authority that would extend Massachusetts rail lines to Springfield and Pittsfield.

SHNS reported that the officials said the new rail authority would be funded using recently allocated federal infrastructure funds, but did not give a timeline for the rail authority’s creation.

“The governor has made a complete commitment to East-West Rail,” Neal told SHNS, calling the meeting a “historic moment.”

Baker told SHNS that he has been in discussions about an east-west rail line for the last five or six years. Though some have characterized him as unsupportive of the idea, he told the news service, he attained needed clarity on the project.

“There is an agreement on a path forward here and we’re going to work between now and the end of the legislative session to put the required building blocks that we need to put in place at the state level, which will then make it possible for us to leverage a lot of the obtainable federal money that’s there,” Baker told SHNS.

Neal told the news service that the agreement hinged on laying out the plans for the new rail authority in a pending infrastructure bond bill and asking for dedicated funding derived from the federal infrastructure bill.

The congressman told SHNS that there are nevertheless some hurdles in creating a plan for an east-west rail service, including deciding what the rail authority board will look like and acquiring the land necessary to build it.

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