$100 million CSX deal; More Central Mass. trains, added track in south.


Byline: Priyanka Dayal

Elected officials yesterday announced the closing of a $100 million deal with CSX Corp. to launch commuter rail service to the South Coast and increase service for Central Massachusetts commuters.

The agreement, announced by the governor and other officials, allows the state to buy more than 30 miles of track from Taunton to the Fall River and New Bedford area, which is crucial to passenger service.

The state is paying $40 million for that track, as well as two pieces of track in and around Boston. One of those pieces, the roughly 8-mile-long Grand Junction track, could be used to connect Worcester commuters to Cambridge and North Station in Boston. The track needs $5 million to $10 million of improvements before it can accommodate passenger trains, according to Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray.

"The exciting thing about North Station is the trains will be going through Kendall Square, MIT ... giving commuters more transportation options," Mr. Murray said yesterday.

At present, all Worcester trains end at South Station in Boston.

Mr. Murray spoke with running-mate Gov. Deval L. Patrick, U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, and U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., during a conference call with reporters yesterday.

The governor said the state has made "incredible progress" on commuter rail and called the deal with CSX a historic one.

State officials are hoping to add several passenger trains on the Worcester line so there are at least 20 inbound and 20 outbound trains daily. The additional trains would begin in 2012, when CSX completes the move of its freight operations from Allston to Westboro and Worcester.

In September 2012, the state is scheduled to purchase the track from Worcester to Framingham. The $50 million acquisition will allow the state to take over maintenance and dispatching of all the tracks from Worcester to Boston - and add more passenger trains.

"Without these purchases, increased commuter rail to Worcester would not be possible and commuter rail to the South Coast would not be possible," Mr. McGovern said during yesterday's conference call.

He and Mr. Kerry said they already have obtained more than $30 million in federal funds for the rail projects.

The senator said increased commuter rail service will help reduce pollution and relieve congestion on highways. New rail service to the South Coast will increase property values there, he added.

Passenger service on that line is slated to begin in 2016 or...

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