Thank you for sharing your thoughtful comments and preferences on which three alternatives should be carried into the final analysis phase of the East-West Passenger Rail Study.
We have reviewed and compiled the information received from the Advisory Committee members, and most responses conveyed that there should be no bus options included in the final three alternatives. And while some members felt that Alternative 6 reduces impacts to freight service and could be transformative for the Commonwealth, the majority felt that it should not move forward due to its longer term nature for implementation and the expected high cost relative to the other alternatives. So by a significant majority the top three alternatives selected to advance are Alternative 3, Alternative 4, and a hybrid of Alternatives 4 and 5. This hybrid option will include:
- Rail service for the full corridor from Pittsfield to Boston;
- Station stops at Pittsfield, Chester, Springfield Union Station, Palmer, Worcester Union Station, and Boston;
- From Pittsfield to Springfield, construction of some double track sections along the CSX tracks/alignment for shared freight and passenger rail service;
- From Springfield to Worcester the construction of a new passenger-only track in CSX right-of-way separate from freight service;
- And in the Springfield to Worcester segment, additional track realignments (from Alternative 5) to achieve reductions in travel time.
With respect to next steps, the study team will refine the cost estimates, forecast a ridership range based on the two proxy scenarios presented at the June 10 Advisory Committee meeting (the ‘Enhanced’ Hartford Line and Downeaster), conduct Rail Traffic Controller simulation modeling, conduct Benefit-Cost Analyses, and assess opportunities for funding and revenue sources for each of the three final alternatives.
We greatly appreciate the feedback we have received, as it has helped guide the study process. We look forward to providing the latest study updates at the next Advisory Committee meeting when we will share the analysis of the final three alternatives.