SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The City of Springfield welcomed Governor Charlie Baker from a Boston train ride to Springfield’s Union Station, to promote the East-West rail link in the state.
With only a few months left as Governor, Baker is trying to keep the momentum going to make sure the East-West trail project is on track for the next administration.
“We need to start moving more of those folks by trains. We need to do it in places like Springfield,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner.
Federal and state officials are aiming to put the city of Springfield back on the map for major rail transportation.
Congressman Richard Neal told 22News, “When I was growing up in Springfield, Springfield was often described as the East-West, North-South corridor of America. I can tell you that we’re well on our way to making this a national intersection again.”
Governor Charlie Baker took a two hour train ride on the Amtrak special “theater car” from Boston to Springfield’s Union Station along with Congressman Richard Neal and Amtrak executives to show his support for the East-West Rail project.
“Over the course of the next few months, we will continue to build on the work that’s been done over the past several years to position this as one of the major opportunities that we will have here in the Commonwealth and throughout the Northeast to do something very special with Amtrak,” said Governor Baker.
Baker said that the train ride from Boston to Springfield also gave time for discussions with Amtrak officials to highlight issues associated with platforms, tracks, and other rail infrastructure.
“We need to rediscover the power of passenger rail to make our nation mobile and sustainable for the future,” said Gardner.
Baker added he is hopeful that state can take full advantage of the the new federal infrastructure law, to compete for grants and other resources to help move the process forward on the East-West rail.
Springfield Mayor Sarno also there saying this rail will have a positive impact on the economy, calling western Massachusetts the ‘Golden West.’
Local leaders have for many years been pushing to develop a reliable service between the eastern and western parts of the state, but only recently has funding been committed to the effort. Earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker signed-off on a $11.4B infrastructure bond bill that included funding for the East-West rail project.
East-West rail would connect Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester, and Boston (with stops also being proposed in Chester and Palmer), and would be one of the largest projects the state has ever taken on. It is estimated that it would cost between $2 billion and $5 billion to make the project a reality.