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CommonWealth: Dear Gov. Raimondo: Express trains wrong ask

Providence Station Adam Moss

Ari Ofsevit and James Aloisi write an open letter to Gov. Raimondo in CommonWealth Magazine in response to her call for express commuter rail service between Providence and Boston.

But rather than single express trains serving a few commuters, we respectfully suggest low-cost, common-sense improvements that would benefit everyone.

At our non-profit TransitMatters, we’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to improve intercity rail in Massachusetts (we will be rolling out a regional rail white paper before the end of the year). We believe that better service is a combination of improved speed and frequency, providing a wider range of benefits in many corridors. The good news is that in the Boston-to-Providence corridor, there are two relatively low-cost steps — high-level platforms and electrification — that the MBTA can take (perhaps with Rhode Island’s help) that would significantly improve service between these two dynamic cities.

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One Response to CommonWealth: Dear Gov. Raimondo: Express trains wrong ask

  1. barry November 14, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    I believe the writers made some good points, and the RI Association of Railroad Passengers will write to the Governor to ask her to take it seriously. It will also be brought up at the coming RIDOT Roundtable they hod with the environmental community Monday next week.

    RIARP had some discussion as to whether or not dual mode locomotives (can run on either overhead electric power or diesel and thus not all the facilities would need the wires) would be a good intermediate step, it needs further investigation.

    One problem is that it is rarely easy to get cooperation across state lines, needed here. RI already has the high level platforms but not the electrification (at the storage yards the MBTA uses and on the FRIP track, and at the Wickford Jct siding) while most MA commuter rail stops do not have the high level platforms.

    At least the state’s establishment has come to understand the importance of our Northeast Corridor location to the state economy, connecting us to NY and Boston powerhouse economies. Unfortunately, not enough see the potential to have the system also serve commuters TO Providence and the other RI stations, and the potential of transit to help the environment, especially if the cleaner electrification can be accomplished. Also the environment community, largely focused only on electric cars, has also generally been missing from the discussion about electrification of commuter rail.

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