Train tragedy in Washington won’t deter local leaders from pursuing East/West high speed rail

Hampden County

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Three people were killed and dozens more injured when a high speed passenger train jumped the tracks going twice the posted speed.

22News spoke with some of the leaders advocating to bring high-speed rail to Massachusetts and asked them, would it be safe, and would it be practical?

“It’s still much safer than automobiles and it would take tens of thousands of cars off the roads,” said Senator Eric Lesser, (D) 1st Hampden / Hampshire District.

The train tragedy in Washington state isn’t deterring local leaders from pursuing East/West high speed rain to connect Boston to Springfield.

People told 22News it’s something they’d support.

Saky Johnson of Springfield told 22News, “It brings a lot of business and networking. I can definitely see that happening. Transferring from here to there to work and for jobs. Definitely. We really need it.”

The state wouldn’t be starting from scratch. There already are established East to West train tracks including a freight line and the Lakeshore Limited Amtrak train. It’s a passenger train, but it’s not high-speed.

The Lakeshore line only runs once a day and the ride is about 2 and half hours.

Kevin Kennedy, Chief Economic Development Officer in Springfield told 22News, “I think it runs about $30. It’s okay but it’s not really convenient.”

Upgrading the existing rail line is projected to cost cost hundreds of millions of dollars but Senator Lesser said the cost not to do it, would be bigger.

“The single biggest challenge in Boston is overcrowding and out of control housing costs. The single biggest challenge we have is we are not producing enough high quality jobs. If you connect the two high high speed rail and better transportation, it solves both problems,” said Lesser.

A bill to study the feasibility of high speed rail is stuck in committee on Beacon Hill.

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