The South Coast Rail project, which would restore commuter train service between Boston and communities in southeastern Massachusetts, has moved two steps closer to reality. But the state’s governor said trains won’t run on the line until 2023 — a year later than planned.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) said the rail project has secured funding from the state and received needed permits from the federal government.
“Phase 1 of South Coast Rail will be funded 100% by the Commonwealth and the MBTA will not be required to provide any capital funding or issue any revenue bonds that might otherwise impact the MBTA’s future operating budget,” Transportation Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Pollack said in a written statement.
The state fund will come through the sale of both general-obligation bonds and special-obligation Rail Enhancement Program bonds. That decision means the MBTA will not have to sell bonds of its own to finance the project as had been anticipated.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the final federal permit required for the program to move forward, state officials said.
Phase 1 of South Coast Rail, which the state estimates will cost $1.057 billion, would send diesel trains from New Bedford, Fall River and Taunton to Boston’s South Station on the MBTA’s existing Middleborough/Lakeville line.
Construction work slated for the project includes:
- Reconstructing 17.3 miles of the New Bedford Main Line and 11.7 miles of the Fall River Secondary,
- Upgrading the existing Middleborough Secondary track from Pilgrim Junction to Cotley Junction, (a distance of 7.1 miles),
- Constructing two new layover facilities, and,
- Constructing six new stations.
On Monday, Gov. Charlie Baker said service on the line would be delayed a year to 2023.