Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey told MassLive reporters last week that she wants to move forward “as quickly as possible” with plans for new intercity passenger train service from Boston to Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield. The plan has the support of local politicians, Amtrak and CSX Transportation, which owns a portion of the route.
The project would add two daily Amtrak trains, complementing the existing daily Lake Shore Limited, a long-distance train between Boston and Chicago, according to a December 2022 Massachusetts Department of Transportation press release. It will also include infrastructure improvements to add capacity and increase maximum passenger train speeds along parts of the line to 80 mph.
MassDOT, Amtrak and CSX jointly applied last year for more than $108 million in funding under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program. Healey is asking for $12.5 million in her proposed fiscal year 2024 budget to cover rail improvements at the Pittsfield station and to design a station for Palmer.
A 2021 study by MassDOT estimated weekday ridership of 900 to 1,600 passengers and faster travel between Boston and Pittsfield by up to an hour over “currently feasible times.”
While Healey is focused on improving rail service to Western Massachusetts, Amtrak expansion plans envision more direct service between Boston and Albany, New York, as part of its goal to add more intercity corridors. At Albany, passengers could connect with trains to New York City, Montreal, western New York, Chicago and intermediate points.