by Keri Allan
06 Dec 2022
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has applied to the US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for over 108 million USD (102.9m EUR) of funding for corridor improvements.
The application to the FRA’s Fiscal Year 2022 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant programme is to support the department’s Connecting the Commonwealth: Early Actions for the Inland Route Project, which will enable faster journeys across and beyond the state.
If awarded, the grant will go towards the project’s estimated cost of 135 million USD (128.61m EUR). MassDOT plans to contribute a further 18 million USD (17.14m EUR) and Amtrak will also provide 9 million USD (8.57m EUR) to the project.
Planned improvements include two new Amtrak inland route daily round trips. The upgrades are a necessary first step for increasing train frequency and speed along the inland route corridor and the Boston-Albany (B&A) corridor. They will improve connections between Boston, Worcester and Springfield as well as further afield, such as to Connecticut and New York City.
In addition to the new daily trains, travel times will be improved for the existing Amtrak Lake Shore Limited service, as the project will include infrastructure improvements that enable faster train speeds of up to 80 miles an hour.
Additional capacity enabled by improvements, such as the extension of existing passing siding along the remaining single-track segments on the 53-mile CSX-owned segment between Worcester and Springfield, will also increase operational efficiency and flexibility by reducing passenger and freight train conflicts and travel times.
“The CRISI grant application is the result of collaborative efforts between the Commonwealth, rail companies and stakeholders to improve service and invest in rail corridor infrastructure.
“Working with Amtrak, CSX, and other partners we continue to make investments in public transportation which will have long-term positive impacts on many regions of the state where rail has not always been available for travel.”
This is the not the first time Massachusetts has applied for a CRISI grant.
Earlier this year, almost 1.8 million USD (1.71m EUR) was awarded to the state for preliminary engineering and environmental review for investments that will improve rail infrastructure, enhance safety and operational flexibility, and increase train capacity in Western Massachusetts near Springfield Union Station.
MassDOT will provide a further 900,000 USD (857,428 EUR) to support this. These investments will benefit the Amtrak Springfield Line, the CSX Boston Albany Line, and small segments of the former Armory Branch and Knowledge Corridor.
Improvements to be made with this funding also complement the investments proposed in MassDOT’s latest CRISI grant application.
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