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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Massachusetts finalizes agreement with CSX Transportation

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Mass. Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray said that the Commonwealth's comprehensive multi-year rail transportation agreement with CSX Transportation, the national freight carrier serving Massachusetts, has been finalized. Lieutenant Governor Murray, who has been working on this agreement since he was Mayor of Worcester, led the negotiations for this agreement on behalf of the administration with critical support from the Governor, Senator John Kerry and Congressman Jim McGovern. Many of the agreement's major elements were resolved last year; however, the long-standing debate concerning liability remained unresolved.


Lieutenant Governor Murray said all parties reached an agreement under which CSXT will help defray the MBTA's liability insurance cost and pay the deductible on the liability insurance policy if an accident occurs involving a freight train and CSXT is clearly at fault because of willful misconduct.

The main elements of the agreement include:

• The Commonwealth will purchase the property rights of the Boston to Worcester rail line from CSXT, increasing the potential for additional commuter service while also taking control of dispatching and maintenance on the line. Through the development of this agreement, the MBTA has already been able to add five Framingham-Boston commuter trains to Worcester on CSX Transportation's Boston line.

• The Commonwealth and CSXT will increase the vertical clearances of bridges along the railroad main line between I-495 and the New York State line to accommodate double-stack freight trains. The Commonwealth will assume responsibility for raising highway bridges, while CSXT will be responsible for lowering tracks.

• In conjunction with the Patrick-Murray Administration's South Coast Rail Corridor Plan, the Commonwealth will purchase the New Bedford-Fall River Line from CSXT. The Commonwealth will also purchase the Boston Terminal Running Track and West First Street Yard in South Boston and CSXT's ownership of the Grand Junction secondary line that extends from Beacon Park Yard through Cambridge to East Boston from CSXT.

• In an effort to create capacity for additional commuter rail service over time, the Commonwealth will help CSXT relocate the company's operations out of Beacon Park Yard in Boston. This relocation will facilitate the redevelopment and reuse of this strategic parcel of land.

• Federal law requires that a new, state-of-the-art technology known as a "positive train control" system will be installed to provide improved rail safety. The new system will monitor rail traffic, and can automatically stop train movements in an area if it detects a potential conflict.

• Passenger and freight trains will operate, as much as possible, in exclusive "windows" of time, thereby reducing the chance for conflict and assisting with the efficiency of both freight and passenger service.

• Allocates liability amongst the parties in a way that provides incentives for both parties to operate safely, ensures that payments are made quickly to anyone injured in an accident, and encourages joint problem solving to correct safety concerns.

• CSXT will contribute $500,000 to help defray the cost of the liability insurance policy the MBTA carries for the entire commuter system. Additionally, in the event an accident occurs involving a freight train and CSXT is clearly at fault because of willful misconduct, the rail road will be responsible to pay the deductible on that policy, up to a maximum of $7.5 million per accident.

In July, the Patrick-Murray Administration joined the New England Governors in announcing a coordinated regional vision for high-speed rail that will connect major cities and airports, and support economic growth throughout the region. The Vision for the New England High Speed and Intercity Rail Network lays out key projects to strengthen passenger and freight rail service along new and existing rail corridors.

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