SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Congressman Richard Neal announces the findings of a report on the Economic Benefits of Regional Rail Investment in Metro Hartford-Springfield Thursday afternoon.
Congressmen Richard Neal joined with John B. Larson (CT-01), and the heads of the two agencies at Springfield Union Station announced the new report showing nearly 10 to 1 economic development return on passenger rail investments reconnecting New Haven to Worcester via Hartford-Springfield Metro area.
“I have been a staunch advocate for improved rail in western and central Massachusetts for decades,” said Congressman Neal. “The findings in the report are welcome news and echo what we already know – improved rail along the inland route from Worcester to Springfield-south is good for the entire region. Economic growth, jobs, and unparalleled opportunity. It is simply too costly not to act at this moment. I will continue to work with Congressman Larson on the federal level and both the CRCOG and PVPC locally to ensure that rail service, in every direction, is a priority.”
The improvements includes finishing the Hartford Line and connecting it to Worcester and provides regular train service from Boston to New York via Worcester, Springfield, Hartford, and New Haven. It would serve 16 existing and future rail stations between New Haven and Worcester.
“I am proud to have helped secure federal funding for the successful Hartford Line. Now is the time to build on that success. Improving the Hartford Line and expanding it to Worcester would provide reliable service between Boston and New York City. This would have a profound economic impact for the greater Hartford region, including our neighbors in New Haven and in Springfield and beyond. I look forward to working with Chairman Neal, the Capitol Region Council of Governments, and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, to help make this important vision a reality,” said Congressman Larson.
Lyle Wray, Executive Director of the CRCOG said, “This new rail service impact report highlights significant opportunities for the Hartford-Springfield region, which is the 40th largest in the country. We could gain 20 to 40,000 jobs in information technology, finance, and professional services back with improved investment in intercity rail connectivity. Payback of the investment over 30 years is almost 10 to one.”
“In so many ways, the findings of this study confirm what we have seen with our own eyes for decades here in the Valley – regions connected by rail to the major economic hubs of Boston and New York City are thriving, while underserved communities like ours have lagged behind,” said PVPC Executive Director Kimberly H. Robinson. “We now know what the lack of rail has cost us economically and this trend cannot continue further into the 21st century. As our nation continues to form into interstate megaregions, we must ensure Metro Hartford-Springfield’s full access to a new American prosperity. Re-establishing an inland connection between New York and Boston via the Connecticut River Valley is an important step in that direction.”
According to a news release sent to 22News from Congressman Neal’s office indicated the report finds that some 20,000 to 40,000 jobs in information technology, finance, and professional services are “missing” from Metro Hartford-Springfield because of the lack of regional and intercity rail connectivity. These jobs, which have fueled growth elsewhere in the Northeast, are particularly attracted to rail transit availability. With rail connectivity restored, these jobs can be attracted over time.