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Boston City Council Learns About North-South Rail Link

The Boston City Council learned more about the North-South rail link, a proposed project to connect North Station and South Station, at a recent hearing.

The proposed 2.8 mile tunnel would link the subway system to the commuter rail system so passengers wouldn’t have to switch MBTA lines to connect like they do currently.

Commuter rail trains arriving at North Station.

The Harvard Kennedy School, in 2017, estimated the cost would be between $4 to $6 billion, depending on the size of the project. However, state officials said it would cost between $12 to $21.5 billion.

Councilors were mostly in favor of the North-South rail link and wanted to have more conversations about it.

“This, of course, runs through our city of Boston, and as the capital city and what I would argue is the economic engine of the state and this region, it’s important for this to happen and for us to understand the full impact,” said Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George about the project.

The North-South rail would also close the only gap between Maine and Washington D.C. on the regional train line, which makes it a federal project as well. This makes the project eligible to receive federal grants. The missing link is only one-mile long.

Lucas Santos, who previously served as Moulton’s transportation director, said the project would take 55 thousand cars off the road daily.

“It just makes travel throughout stations seamless,” he said.

Former governor Michael Dukakis believes this is one of the most important national infrastructure projects and said this region needs a regional rail line system.

“This is the busiest train line in the country,” he said. “We must have a regional rail system in this region. You can’t have a world class regional train system with one mile missing in the middle of it. This is absolutely critical.”

In a recent NorthEndWaterfront.com poll, the majority of our readers (86.5% of poll participants) expressed that they, too, support the North-South link.

Essaibi-George said that the city and state need to move ahead with this project.

“We need to get to a place of action,” she said.

6 Replies to “Boston City Council Learns About North-South Rail Link

  1. After the Big Dig overshoot, plus a 22 Trillion deficit, I’m, not sure the country will be thrilled to jump in and finance this. Might do better to build a train line and throw a berm over it to combine the boondoggles.

    1. Probably some combination of people who would take a train to get from point A to B if it were easier than driving, and people who need to get from South to North Station and currently hop in a Lyft, rather than going from the red line to the green line.

    2. Number of cab runs between the two stations? Seems like he through out a number that would get attention, who knows whether it has any foundation.

  2. Well, in practice, there is a “North-South Rail Link” that already exists, but it’s only reserved for freight trains. That said, the Commonwealth can almost certainly consider utilizing that existing connection and just simply electrify those regions rather than “start from scratch” by building a tunnel underneath Boston. Yes, it is true that the trains would have to detour via Worcester/Framingham MBTA Commuter Rail line to the existing connection to the Fitchburg MBTA Commuter Rail line, and freight trains usually get priority over passenger trains (even electric ones), but all in all, it would not require as much new infrastructure and therefore would be cheaper than digging a tunnel in addition to electrifying new tracks. Only the latter would be necessary, then costs to electrify up to Maine will become the only hurdle left, if any

    1. That line is not practical, it circumnavigated downtown Boston and has countless at grade crossings, meaning more traffic to let trains through. A downtown connection through Boston is neccessay for efficient passenger traffic through the region.

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