BOSTON, Mass. — Commuter rail service on the Worcester line will expand and overall train traffic will increase after the state begins the second phase of a rail initiative with CSX Corp. next month.
Massachusetts takes ownership and control of the rail line between Framingham and Worcester from CSX in October, which will spur increased freight capacity and development along the line, according to a report released by Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray.
"Transportation is the enabling network of our economy – it's about getting people and businesses from one location to another," Murray said in a statement. "I have worked closely with many critical partners and stakeholders to advance the CSX agreement and invest in improved freight and commuter rail service."
As part of the Massachusetts State Rail Plan, the state has invested nearly $1 billion in the state's rail system through competitive grants, public funds and private sector capital. These investments represent the most significant improvements in the Commonwealth's rail system in decades.
The agreement between Massachusetts and CSX will bring changes to freight and rail service in Central Massachusetts, Metrowest, Western Massachusetts, Boston and South Coast regions. Murray, who has worked on the CSX agreement since he was mayor of Worcester, led negotiations for the agreement with support from Gov. Deval Patrick, U.S. Sen. John Kerry and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern.
The compact is being finalized in two parts, beginning with an initial closing in June 2010, which set the entire project in motion, including the permitting processes and infrastructure work needed to allow for the relocation of CSX operations.
The second closing, scheduled for early October, will complete the full transaction and allow for:
• Expanding commuter rail service to the Metrowest/Worcester areas by taking ownership and control of the rail line between Framingham and Worcester;
• Raising the railroad bridge clearances from Westborough to the New York State line to allow for the double-stacking of full-size freight containers on trains. This will increase freight capacity, reduce costs, and give Massachusetts companies better access to national and Asian markets;
• Making possible the restoration of commuter rail service to the South Coast by taking ownership of the rail lines that run from Boston to New Bedford and Fall River; and
• Relocating the CSX freight rail operations now in Boston at the Beacon Park Yard, to rail yards in Westborough, Worcester and West Springfield. This relocation will allow for the redevelopment of an 80-plus-acre parcel along the Charles River to serve as a new gateway district for the city.
With the second closing, the full transaction will be complete and the Commonwealth will pay CSX $100 million for:
• 45 miles of the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail line between Boston and Worcester;
• 37 miles of rail lines running south from Taunton to Fall River and New Bedford;
• 8 miles known as the Grand Junction, which runs from Allston, across the Charles River, through Cambridge, Charlestown, Everett and Chelsea; and
• 2 miles known as the Boston Terminal Running Track, which extends from Dorchester to South Boston, including the West First Street Yard.
As part of this public-private partnership, CSX is investing $129 million for rail yards in Worcester, Westborough and West Springfield to expand and enhance freight services.
The state and CSX have also worked to complete bridge work at 31 locations from the New York border to Worcester to allow for the double-stacking of full-size freight containers. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has raised clearances at 14 of those locations by investing $72 million and CSX has completed the work for the remaining sites.