SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser announced a “major breakthrough” on Monday in his long pursuit of a state feasibility study of passenger rail service linking Springfield to Boston.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), in its 2018 State Rail Plan released on Friday, includes a feasibility study of east-west passenger rail service between Boston and Springfield. The plan to study east-west rail is backed by a personal commitment from MassDOT to Senator Lesser, he said.
Sen. Lesser made the announcement alongside Sen. James T. Welch and Representatives Brian M. Ashe and Bud Williams.
The state releases a rail plan every decade, outlining priority projects in a tiered system that designates how resources will be devoted to each project.
The fact that a study of east-west rail service is included in that plan is “a big deal,” Sen. Lesser said, because it means that a study has become a priority in the state’s transportation planning.
Sen. Lesser noted that the 2018 State Rail Plan released on Friday is a draft, and is currently open for public comment until Feb. 19. The Plan will be updated accordingly.
“This means that your support, your advocacy on behalf of east-west rail is vital at this moment, as MassDOT completes the Plan with your input. This is an appeal to the public to make your voice heard,” he said.
Sen. Lesser is a long-time advocate of east-west rail service, having supported the idea since his first campaign in 2014.
In October 2017, Sen. Lesser bussed 40 constituents to the State House to testify before the legislature’s Transportation Committee in support of his bill proposing a study of east-west rail from Boston to Springfield.
This is the second time he has introduced this bill, which requires the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to move forward with a feasibility study of Springfield-to-Boston high-speed rail. The State Senate has passed this bill three years in a row.
Since then, the proposal has continued to gain support, including high-profile endorsements from U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and U.S. Congressmen Richard Neal, James McGovern and Seth Moulton, as well as the Chambers of Commerce in Boston and Springfield.