$10.2M will save time on Fitchburg-Boston rail.


Byline: Paula J. Owen

LEOMINSTER - A $10.2 million project to upgrade the Fitchburg-to-Boston commuter rail line will eventually reduce the lengthy commute into Boston by 45 minutes, Gov. Deval L. Patrick said as he and U.S. Rep. John W. Olver, D-Amherst, announced almost $200 million in funding for the commuter line yesterday.

The goal is for the entire project to be completed in one and half years, the governor said at a ceremony with local and state officials held at a section of the rail behind Pioneer Drive that is slated for improvement.

"About 45 minutes (of the commute) will be reduced once it's all done," Mr. Patrick said.

The $10.2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money for this part of the project will aid in improving the speed, service and reliability of the rail line that serves north Central Massachusetts, he said, while also creating jobs.

The Fitchburg-to-Boston rail has the oldest infrastructure in the state's system, and is the longest in distance and travel time in a region with limited commuter options.

The $10.2 million project is the groundbreaking for broader improvements in the entire project, the governor said.

A new universal crossover will separate the track for freight trains to allow the commuter rail to get through and for uninterrupted improvements in other stages, said Colin B. Durrant, spokesman for the state's Department of Transportation.

He said the project is part of almost $200 million in rail projects.

"The $10.2 million in stimulus funding is the first stage of the project called interlocking on the stretch of rail from Ayer to Fitchburg that will allow us to switch a train from one track to another," Mr. Durrant explained.

He said the measure will reduce delays and help during improvements in other stages.

"If we didn't do that, we would have to do...

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