The Day of New London editorialized this week about our new train service to Wickford Junction. The gist of the editorial being they like more trains and want even more. Currently, New London is stuck in a bit of a train void, Shore Line East service to New London does not run on weekends, and at this point neither does MBTA service to Wickford Junction. Nonetheless, a weekday drive from New London to Wickford Junction, parking in the garage, and a ticket to Boston cost less than either driving straight through, or paying for direct Amtrak service from Boston to New London.
New Londoners seem pleased that at the Wickford Junction ground breaking, MBTA officials expressed optimism for extending service further south the Westerly, which would put MBTA commuter rail service within 15 miles of New London. At the same time, weekend Shore Line East service to New Haven from New London is set to start in a year (putting Westerly within 15 miles of commuter rail service to New Haven and New York).
Meanwhile, The Herald News of Fall River reports that officials in Bristol County, Massachusetts are a little miffed that we’re getting commuter rail service built deeper into Rhode Island while Fall River, Taunton, and New Bedford still lack commuter rail service. Though Mass. State Sen. Michael Rodrigues is realistic about the issues involved.
“It’s a shame that we have infrastructure in place to South County, R.I., but not to the SouthCoast,” […] But the senator also called himself “a realist” when it comes to a rail connection to Boston going to southern Rhode Island before Fall River or New Bedford, also citing the much higher rail upgrade costs needed in Massachusetts.
Indeed, the Rhode Island extensions are being built on active Amtrak lines with the majority of costs going towards the stations themselves and sidings, as well as operational costs. The lines to Taunton, New Bedford, and Fall River need to be largely rebuilt to accommodate commuter rail service at speeds to make it worthwhile to run the service.
The good news seems to be that, regionally, people want rail service, and it seems New London and Fall River are getting a little jealous of ours.