Over $100 million in funding announced for East-West rail project

There was a big step forward for the East-West rail project on Friday.
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 11:53 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2023 at 2:57 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - There was a big step forward for the East-West rail project on Friday. Governor Maura Healey joined Congressman Richard Neal and others for a big funding announcement in Springfield.

“This is a huge economic boost for people who live in the valley, linking this to the city of Worcester and on to the city of Boston,” Neal said.

The project envisions direct train service linking Boston to Pittsfield with stops in Springfield and Worcester. Now, the commonwealth is receiving $108 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program. Healey was among the speakers on Friday and called this moment exciting in getting this project literally on the right track.

“I’ve said from the beginning, team Massachusetts. We want to fire on all cylinders and this, today, is an example of the kind of result we can deliver,” Healey added.

The funding will go towards the infrastructure projects to facilitate two brand new Amtrak inland route daily round trips. It will also support infrastructure improvements to increase the speeds of trains and additional corridor capacity between Springfield and Worcester along the CSX Boston and Albany line. Healey said she will soon have a full staff, including a director, to oversee this project.

“We’re currently in the process of hiring that director of East-West rail, in addition to staff. I sought and received $650,000, so that we are going to be very shortly all staffed up,” Healey noted.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno told Western Mass News the East-West rail would benefit western Massachusetts greatly.

“I’ll always continue to fight tooth and nail that that economic development (and) those job opportunities are going to originate right here from the city of Springfield on,” Sarno said.

It will still take a few years for the project to be complete. We asked Neal what the next step was.

“The component here between Worcester and Boston, that works pretty well. Now making sure that Worcester to Springfield works well, and then eventually on to Pittsfield as well,” Neal explained.

Neal said Massachusetts will ask for more funding once the project goes further. For right now, according to Sarno, it is all aboard for the East-West rail.