Neal: East-west rail should be “price” of MBTA investments

  • House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., speaks during a hearing in May on Capitol Hill in Washington. J. Scott Applewhite

State House NewsService
Published: 11/7/2019 11:51:53 PM
Modified: 11/7/2019 11:51:42 PM

If Massachusetts is going to invest in fixing the MBTA, as it appears lawmakers intend to, then state officials also need to invest in an east-west rail connection, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal told business leaders Thursday morning in Boston.

“If we’re to have a major fix of the MBTA, which everybody of Massachusetts pays for, east-west rail ought to be the price for western and central Massachusetts,” Neal, the chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and a former mayor of Springfield, told the New England Council. “And I think that this can be done.”

Supporters say better rail service between Greater Boston and western Massachusetts would help connect residents to job opportunities and help alleviate some pressure around housing availability and cost in the east. Since last year, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has been studying what it would take to implement passenger rail service from Boston to Springfield and Pittsfield.

“I understand you need an efficient mass transit system in the capital region, but we need improved rail that would only enhance economic growth in central and western Massachusetts,” Neal told the news service after his remarks.

Neal, former governor Deval Patrick and Gov. Charlie Baker, and former Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy used federal stimulus money to improve service on the north-south rail route through Springfield, leading to 12 more trains a day between Springfield and Hartford, and 16 more daily trains between Hartford and New York City, the congressman recounted.

“And I want to do the same thing on the east-west route,” he said. “It works well to Worcester — we want to go Worcester, west.”

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