Neal Celebrates $108M in Federal Funding to Support East-West Rail
Springfield, MA, September 22, 2023
Congressman Richard E. Neal joined Massachusetts Governor Maura T. Healey, Acting Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt, MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator Meredith Slesinger, and Amtrak Executive Vice President for Strategy and Planning Dennis Newman to announce $108M in federal funding awarded under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program.
The CRISI Program funds projects that improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of intercity passenger and freight rail throughout the U.S. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, much of which was written in the House Ways and Means Committee under Congressman Neal’s Chairmanship, more than tripled the funding for the CRISI Program, furthering the program’s efforts to modernize America’s freight and passenger rail infrastructure.
“Over the last ten years, the Commonwealth has witnessed a remarkable transformation in both freight and passenger rail, particularly with the redevelopment of Springfield’s Union Station. It is fair to say that Springfield has reestablished itself as the crossroads of New England, and with today’s announcement, we are just one step closer to making East-West Rail a reality,” said Congressman Neal. “With much of the language in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law having been drafted in the Ways and Means Committee, I was in regular communication with the FRA to ensure my support for this application was known. The facts are simple: improving and expanding passenger rail service will have a tremendous impact on regional economies throughout Massachusetts. That is why Governor Healey has voiced her support for East-West Rail, and that is why we will continue to invest in a project whose framework has the potential to serve as a model for expanding passenger rail service across the country.”
“I am thrilled we were able to secure this critical funding for central and western Massachusetts, which will lay the foundation for West-East Rail. From day one, we said our administration was going to compete for an unprecedented level of federal funding opportunities, and I’m proud to say we are delivering on that promise,” said Governor Healey. “We thank the Biden-Harris Administration for their continued historic investments in infrastructure and are grateful for the strong partnership of Chairman Neal and our entire federal delegation in promoting public transit and advancing priorities for economic competitiveness.”
In partnership with Amtrak, and with support from CSX, MassDOT applied for CRISI grant funds in December of 2022. The funding will go towards the $135M corridor infrastructure projects to facilitate two new Amtrak Inland Route daily round trips as a first phase of corridor improvements. These two additional daily trips will enhance connections between Boston, Worcester, and Springfield, and to communities beyond the Commonwealth in Connecticut and New York City. The funding will also support infrastructure improvements to increase train speeds and additional corridor capacity along the 53-mile section of the CSX Boston and Albany (B&A) Line between Worcester and Springfield. Through the extension of existing passing siding capacity and other track improvements, the Maximum Authorized Speed (MAS) along the 44-mile single-track segment will increase to 80 mph, further minimizing train delays.
“We are grateful to our congressional delegation for helping us secure this CRISI funding, and thank U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and the Federal Railroad Administration for approving our application,” said Acting Secretary Tibbits-Nutt. “Working with our elected leaders, municipal officials, Amtrak, CSX, and other partners we will be launching capital projects on this corridor which will have long-term positive economic impacts on the region, which will allow for additional corridor capacity, and which will decrease travel times between station destinations.”
MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator Meredith Slesinger added, “We are pleased to have received this funding from the CRISI program which will result in new Amtrak service connecting Boston, Springfield, and New Haven. In addition to the new service, the funded improvements will benefit operation of the existing Amtrak Lake Shore Limited service connecting Boston, Springfield, Pittsfield and Albany and set the foundation for future east-west passenger and freight service growth. Growing rail in the Commonwealth is an essential element of our strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide more transportation options to better connect communities across the state.”
“At Amtrak, we’ve delivering a new era of passenger rail as we invest in our existing assets and plan for future growth,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President for Strategy and Planning Dennis Newman. “Today’s grant announcement will restore service on the Inland Route and enable two additional round trips per day between Boston and Springfield, delivering on the IIJA’s vision for expanded and improved passenger rail.”
The FRA reviewed 234 eligible applications, requesting $6.087 billion from 49 States and the District of Columbia. This was one of 70 applications awarded funding, with $108M being one of the top three awards in the nation. In addition to CRISI funds, Congressman Neal continues to support efforts by MassDOT and Amtrak to secure additional funds that will improve and expand passenger rail across the Commonwealth. This includes two pending applications submitted by MassDOT to receive funding under the FRA’s Corridor ID Program to fund updates to service plans for the Inland Route and the Boston-Albany Corridors, which will ensure eligibility for future federal funding.