South Coast Rail Construction Almost Complete

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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Courtesy of MBTA

TAUNTON, Mass. – Construction on the South Coast Rail project between Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts is nearing completion. Once that occurs, safety testing can begin.

The South Coast Rail construction is nearing completion, according to South Coast Today. The project seeks to restore commuter rail service between southeastern Massachusetts and Boston. The cities of Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford are within 50 miles of Boston and “do not currently have commuter rail access to Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Now, safety testing can occur once construction is completed. When asked about a start date, Project Manager for South Coast Rail Jean Fox said “I don’t have it at this time because the testing and commissioning is so robust. We’re going to keep targeting and pushing and pushing. It’s going to take a while. That’s what it’s all about, safety.”

At UMass Dartmouth Law School recently, Project Manager Fox and State Rep. William Straus said, “most of the construction has been completed for the six new stations – Middleborough, East Taunton, Freetown, Fall River, Church Street in New Bedford and New Bedford – and two layover facilities.” 

The testing includes system features and 2,000 required tests of the Automatic Train Control System. Additionally, the Positive Train Control system (PTC) must be tested. Other safety testing includes the “certification of over 200 critical elements – bridges, culverts, grade crossings, walls, tracks, stations, layovers, and the ATC/PTC systems.” 

Jean Fox said the trains will be faster and quieter because of continuous welded rail. Fox went on to say “For years and years and years, we had nothing but sporadic slow-moving freight trains. We’re now going to have faster trains and ultimately, we’ll have a regular service. . . People need to understand that it will be extremely dangerous to walk the dog, ride an ATV, go hunting or take a shortcut on the railroad track.” To stress the importance of safety along the track, the Safety First Program was developed to inform those along the route.

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