Final milestone reached in CSX Agreement provides the Commonwealth ownership of rail tracks and operations along the Framingham/Worcester Line
WORCESTER – Thursday, October 4, 2012 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today announced the completion of the agreement with CSX Corporation that paves the way for increased commuter rail service expected to begin October 29, 2012 and strengthens the state’s rail freight network to support the region’s economy. After years of negotiations and multiple phases achieved through the Commonwealth’s historic agreement with CSX, Lieutenant Governor Murray was joined by Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Richard Davey and officials from CSX Corporation, one of the nation’s leading transportation companies, to officially accept the “keys” for ownership of the rail tracks and operations along the Framingham/Worcester line on behalf of the Patrick-Murray Administration and Commonwealth.
Now finalized, the agreement between CSX and the Commonwealth provides the Commonwealth ownership of the rail tracks and control of operations along the Framingham/Worcester line, allowing greater opportunities for MassDOT to not only improve service, but also increase service between Boston and Worcester, the state’s first and second largest cities, respectively. The Commonwealth will immediately increase commuter rail service on the Framingham/Worcester line between Boston and Worcester with the addition of three new inbound and three new outbound trains between the two cities for a total of 31 stops arriving or departing Worcester station. The Lieutenant Governor also announced that MassDOT will add one inbound special express and one outbound special express in the spring of 2013 and will reach the goal of 20 round trips by October 2013.
“Since the restoration of limited commuter rail service to Worcester in 1994, the importance of linking New England’s two largest cities by passenger rail has been clear,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “This finalized agreement with CSX marks a major milestone for transportation in Massachusetts as we deliver enhanced services for the growing demand of riders and support business and community development in the Worcester and Metrowest areas.”
In addition to increased commuter rail service, through the finalized agreement with CSX, the Commonwealth will take control of maintenance of the right of way and begin the dispatching transition so that all Worcester Line trains are dispatched from MBTA facilities, bringing an even greater public focus to improving reliability and on-time performance of the line.
“The Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to improving transportation for residents Commonwealth-wide,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey. “A high quality transit system is a key component to a thriving economy. With this rail purchase and the expansion of rail service, we are helping to open new doors of economic opportunity for residents and businesses across the state.”
Today also recognized the expansion and modernization of CSX’s intermodal facility in Worcester, which will allow for the relocation of the intermodal container operations now in Boston. CSX’s investment of approximately $100 million in this site created approximately 380 construction jobs, with 85 permanent jobs expected to remain at the yard upon completion of the project. Intermodal containers are large cargo boxes that can travel by ship, rail or truck. The CSX yard in Worcester processes approximately 110,000 intermodal containers annually, and that number is expected to grow to 150,000 annually in the near future and 200,000 annually in the long term. In addition, CSX has completed the development of a new bulk commodity transfer (TRANSFLO) facility on the site of a former automotive terminal in Westborough, enabling those operations to relocate from Boston as well.
“We commend the Patrick-Murray Administration for its recognition of the importance of passenger and freight transportation to the future of the Commonwealth and to the greater Worcester area,” said Lisa A. Mancini, CSX’s senior vice president and chief administrative officer. “CSX is proud of its long history of contributing to the economic vitality of the Commonwealth and we look forward to a bright future together.”
If service is expanded and enhanced along the line, demand is expected to increase by 30 percent by 2030. More than one-third of those who currently ride the Framingham/Worcester line, board trains on stations west of Framingham. If all commuters who use this commuter rail line today instead drove cars to work each day, it could increase daily traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Newton and Boston by up to 8 percent.
“Lieutenant Governor Murray has been a steadfast supporter of commuter rail expansion and has worked tirelessly to ensure increased commuter rail service will occur. This is a great day for everyone from Worcester to Boston,” said Mayor Joseph Petty of Worcester. “This closing provides the much needed expansion of commuter rail service to Worcester residents and businesses. I want to thank the Lieutenant Governor, the state officials and CSX for working together to create this opportunity here in Worcester.”
"Our city has a proud history of railroading," said Worcester City Manager Michael V. O'Brien. "Our future is now further enhanced with the Commonwealth's planned expansion of commuter rail service by nearly double the trips to Boston and CSX's $100 million dollar, 21st century intermodal hub nearing completion. Win-win all around - commerce, industry, real estate marketplace, workforce, connections to and from centers of excellence and the list goes on and on."
Since taking office in 2007, improving the state’s transportation infrastructure has been a key priority of the Patrick-Murray Administration. As part of the Massachusetts State Rail Plan, the Administration has strategically invested close to $1 billion in the state’s rail system through competitive grants, public funds and private sector capital. These investments, some ongoing, represent the most significant improvements in the Commonwealth’s rail system as a whole in decades. The existing commuter rail service and the prospect of 20 round-trip trains to Boston has been the major driving force in the realization of more than $500 million of mixed used development now underway or in final planning for downtown Worcester and surrounding neighborhoods. In September, Lieutenant Governor Murray released a progress report titled “Transforming the Rail Network for Economic and Community Development” that provides an extensive overview of accomplishments achieved in Massachusetts as a result of the landmark agreement with CSX. Lieutenant Governor Murray, who worked on the CSX agreement since he was Mayor of Worcester, led negotiations for the agreement on behalf of the Administration with critical support from Governor Deval Patrick, Senator John Kerry and Congressman Jim McGovern.
The finalized CSX compact began with an initial closing in June of 2010, which set the entire project in motion, including the permitting processes and infrastructure work needed to allow for the relocation of CSX operations.
Today marked the second closing, completing the full transaction and allowing for:
· Expanding commuter rail service to the Metrowest/Worcester areas by taking ownership and control of the rail line between Framingham and Worcester.
· Raising the railroad bridge clearances from Westborough to the New York State line to allow, for the first time in state history, the double-stacking of full-size freight containers on trains serving Massachusetts. This will increase freight capacity, reduce costs, and give Massachusetts companies better access to national and global markets.
· Making possible the eventual restoration of commuter rail service to the South Coast by taking ownership of the rail lines that run from Boston to New Bedford and Fall River.
· Relocating the CSX freight rail operations now in Boston at the Beacon Park Yard, to rail yards in Westborough, Worcester and West Springfield. This relocation will allow for the redevelopment of an 80+- acre parcel along the Charles River to serve as a new gateway district for the city.
The full transaction is now complete and in total, the Commonwealth will pay CSX $100 million for:
· 45 miles of the Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail line between Boston and Worcester
· 37 miles of rail lines running south from Taunton to Fall River and New Bedford
· 8 miles known as the Grand Junction, which runs from Allston, across the Charles River, through Cambridge, Charlestown, Everett and Chelsea
· 2 miles known as the Boston Terminal Running Track which extends from Dorchester to South Boston, including the West First Street Yard
As part of this public-private partnership, CSX is investing about $150 million including the investments at rail yards in Worcester, Westborough and West Springfield to expand and enhance freight services throughout the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth and CSX have also worked together to complete bridge work at 31 locations across the state, from the New York border to Worcester, to raise the clearance to allow for the double-stacking of full-size freight containers. Through this initiative, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation also raised clearances at 14 of those locations (completed on September 19th) by investing $72 million and CSX is completing the work for the remaining sites.
“Expansion of commuter rail service on the Framingham/Worcester line will greatly benefit local commuters and will make Central Massachusetts an even more attractive place to live and work. I applaud the Patrick/Murray Administration for fulfilling their commitment to the residents of Central Massachusetts in taking this major step forward,” said Senator Harriette Chandler.
"The implementation of this agreement will have an enormous positive impact on Central Massachusetts and is the culmination of much collaboration between the state and CSX," said Senator Michael Moore.
"I am proud of the public/private partnership that this project exemplifies. Working together, we are building a better city and a better Commonwealth. Everywhere you look in downtown Worcester you see cranes and construction, and with the help of this project, we will now see faster and better transportation services to Boston and the communities in between. For these reasons I am hopeful for our city's future and tremendously grateful to have the opportunity, along with Lt. Governor Murray, to positively influence it," said Representative James O'Day.
To learn more about the Patrick-Murray Administration’s investments in rail and the CSX Agreement, visit www.mass.gov/governor/rail.