December 10, 2018

Warren, Markey, Neal, McGovern Announce $10 Million of Federal Investment in Western Massachusetts Freight Line

Federal grant will help modernize the New England Central Railroad main line through Western Massachusetts

Washington, DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Representatives Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) today announced the release of a $10.8 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant to upgrade the New England Central Railroad main line through Western Massachusetts. Today, the corridor’s infrastructure cannot accommodate the modern, North American industry standard weight for freight cars, decreasing the amount of cargo that is shipped on this line. Since the mid-2000s, the private sector and state and federal governments have invested more than $80 million to modernize the line in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. This $10.8 million BUILD grant will be combined with $9.6 million in state funding through the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and $9.6 million from the New England Central Railroad to modernize the remaining link in Massachusetts, replacing 31 miles of new rail and 20,000 crossties, and strengthening 20 bridges.
“This federal funding to upgrade the New England Central Railroad is crucial for Western Massachusetts freight transportation,” said Senator Warren. “I’m committed to ensuring that the federal government is a strong partner for the Commonwealth, and that means supporting key infrastructure projects like these, which will increase the region’s participation in the freight network and spur economic growth.”
“With this BUILD grant, we can finally close a crucial gap preventing Massachusetts producers and consumers from enjoying a more efficient, cost-effect freight network,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and Environment and Public Works Committee. “This robust federal investment will create jobs and spur growth and economic activity in the region. From Worcester, to Springfield and beyond, this BUILD grant will make the region more competitive in an increasingly globalized economy.”
“As a longtime advocate of both freight and passenger rail, I am pleased that the industry continues to grow throughout New England,” said Rep. Neal. “The expansion of rail has created jobs, increased economic development and helped improve the quality of life in the region. Freight carriers move tons of goods and services over our transportation network each day.  And this $10 million federal grant will help upgrade the freight line in western Massachusetts and significantly improve our local transportation infrastructure. It also compliments the investment we have made in the north-south passenger rail from Springfield to New Haven. It’s more good transportation news for the Pioneer Valley.”
“Modernizing this line will help link businesses here in Massachusetts and throughout the region to worldwide markets,” said Rep. McGovern. “Our nation’s infrastructure is in desperate need of investments like this BUILD grant, and I am excited by the prospect of enhanced economic development and job growth that this project brings to the Pioneer Valley and beyond.”
“Our administration is pleased to leverage state and private-sector funding with a federal BUILD Grant to improve over thirty miles of rail line and support economic growth and development throughout the region,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This project will improve access to new and existing customers, allow for more goods to be shipped with less energy and help ensure Massachusetts remains economically competitive with domestic and international trade partners.”

“We are proud to receive this $10.8 million US Department of Transportation grant which will be combined with state and private resources to enhance this rail line and ensure it can accommodate modern freight carloads,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “This investment will allow the entire railroad line to be opened to 286,000 lbs. freight cars, return the track to a state of good repair, and help decrease the amount of freight shipped on our roadways which reduces congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.”
“A great effort by federal, state and local officials in working with the New England Central Railroad has resulted in awarding of this grant,” said New England Central Railroad President Len Wagner. “It will help fund much needed improvements to allow the railroad to handle modern, heavier freight cars over its main line in Massachusetts.  This will help both current and future freight customers in Massachusetts better compete in their domestic and international marketplaces.”
A copy of the letter from the lawmakers to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao can be found HERE.