Notable rail legislation

This page details bills would effect passenger and/or freight rail service in our region of the state.

Contents

Current session

Massachusetts 193rd Session (2023–2024)

Vermont 77th Session (2023–2024)

Past sessions

Massachusetts 191st Session (2019–2020)

Massachusetts 192nd Session (2021–2022)


Massachusetts 193rd Session (2023–2024)

Bills as filed

An Act Relative to an Interstate Compact for Western MA Rail Service

Summary | The bill would directed the Secretary of Transportation to establish an interstate rail compact with the states of Connecticut, New York, and Vermont.

House Bill HD.2977
Filed by Rep. Sabadosa (1st Hampshire)

Senate Bill SD.1919
Filed by Sen. Mark (Berkshire)

An Act to establish fast, frequent, and reliable passenger rail service between Pittsfield and Boston via Springfield

Summary | The bill directs the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to operate passenger rail service between the cities of Pittsfield and Boston via Springfield.

Senate Bill SD.1939
Filed by Sen. Mark (Berkshire)

An Act relative to transportation safety reform within the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Summary | The bill would transfer the all commuter rail assets of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to the rail and transit division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation including the obligations in the operating agreement with Keolis Commuter Services to provide commuter rail service. The bill would also establish the rail and transit division as the exclusive operator of commuter rail and passenger rail service in the commonwealth; provided that the rail and transit division may contract with private operators or the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) for the provision of such service.

House Bill HD.3315
Filed by Rep. Straus (10 Bristol)

Additional bills will be added to this list as they are filed.

2024 State Budget

An Act making appropriations for the fiscal year 2024 for the maintenance of the departments, boards, commissions, institutions, and certain activities of the commonwealth, for interest, sinking fund, and serial bond requirements, and for certain permanent improvements

Commonly referred to as the Fiscal Year 2024 state budget

The current status can be found on this official link
FY2024 Budget

Vermont 77th session (2023–2024)

An act relating to transportation initiatives to reduce carbon emissions

Summary | The bill includes wording that directs the Agency of Transportation to work with Amtrak and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to extend Amtrak service on the Valley Flyer to White River Junction, Vermont.

House Bill H.101
Sponsors Rep. Burke (Windham-8) and Rep. Stebbins (Chittenden-13)


Past Sessions

Drop down boxes

Massachusetts 191st Session (2019-2020)

191st Session (2019–2020)

An Act authorizing and accelerating transportation investment

Commonly referred to as the Transportation Investment Bill or the Transportation Bond Bill

2/26/2020
House Committee on Ways and Means — reported as H.4506

3/5/2020
House — Passed as H.4547

7/10/2020
Senate Committee on Ways and Means — reported as S.2813

7/16/2020
Senate — Passed and printed as amended | see S.2836

1/5/2021
Reported by Committee on Conference | see H.5248
House – Passed
Senate – Passed

1/15/2021
The bill became law with the signature of Governor Baker, subject to “pocket votes” that reduced the total funding in the bill by $30 million | See Chapter 383 of the Acts of 2020

Of particular note is this wording that was included in the bill that was signed by Governor Baker on January 15, 2021.

$175 million for Rail Improvements, including $50 million dedicated to East-West Passenger Rail

Item 6622-2184 — $175,000,000 (reduced from $250 million)
For the purpose of implementing rail improvements pursuant to chapter 161C of the General Laws; provided, that not less than $50,000,000 shall be used for transportation planning, design, permitting and engineering, acquisition of interests in land, vehicle procurement, construction, construction of stations and right-of-way acquisition for the East-West passenger rail project, which includes Pittsfield to Boston service via Springfield, Palmer, and Worcester; provided further, that said rail improvements may take the East-West Passenger Rail Study conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation into consideration; provided further, that funding for said rail improvements may be used in conjunction with any federal funding set aside for the East-West rail project;

provided further, that funds may be used for transportation planning, design, permitting and engineering, acquisition of interests in land, vehicle procurement, construction, construction of stations and right-of-way acquisition for rail projects,

  • including Housatonic Railroad service,
  • Boston to Cape Cod service, including, but not limited to, commuter service to Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod,
  • Fitchburg to Greenfield to North Adams service, Pittsfield to New York City service and Boston to Albany, New York service and
  • converting the Valley Flyer Pilot Service into a permanent commuter rail service connecting the cities town of Greenfield and the cities of, Northampton, Holyoke and Springfield;

and provided further, that not less than $25,000,000 shall be expended for transportation planning, design, permitting and engineering, acquisition of interests in land, vehicle pro

Massachusetts 192nd Session (2021-2022)

192nd Session (2021–2022)

An Act Relative to an Interstate Compact for Western MA Rail Service

House Bill H.3532
Filed by Rep. Mark (2nd Berkshire) and Rep. Sabadosa (1st Hampshire)

1/10/2022
Hearing before the Joint Committee on Transportation
Written Testimony in support of H.3532 (PDF) | Trains In The Valley
Written Testimony in support of H.3532 (PDF) | Western Mass Rail Coalition

3/14/2022
Bill reported favorably by committee and referred to the committee on House Ways and Means

1/3/2023
No further action taken

An Act to establish fast, frequent, and reliable passenger rail service between Pittsfield and Boston via Springfield

Senate Bill S.2345
Filed by Sen. Lesser (First Hampden and Hampshire)

1/10/2022
Hearing before the Joint Committee on Transportation
Written Testimony in support of S.2345 (PDF) | Western Mass Rail Coalition

12/22/2022
Senate | Ought NOT to pass (under Joint Rule 10) and placed in the Orders of the Day for the next session

An Act funding a study of passenger service on the Housatonic rail line

House Bill H.3571
Filed by Rep. Pignatelli (4th Berkshire)

Also Senate Bill 2336

1/10/2022
Hearing before the Joint Committee on Transportation
Written Testimony in support of H.3571 (PDF) | Western Mass Rail Coalition

2/3/2022
Committee recommended ought to pass and referred to the committee on House Ways and Means

1/3/2023
No further action taken

An Act creating a New Deal for Transportation in the Commonwealth

Senate Bill S.2265
Filed by Sen. Boncore (First Suffolk and Middlesex)

3/3/2022
Reporting date extended to April 29, 2022

An Act Relative to Massachusetts’s Transportation Resources and Climate

Abbreviated as MassTRAC and sometimes referred to as the the Infrastructure Bond Bill

Signed into law by Governor Baker on August 11, 2022.

For further details see 192nd Session (2021–2022)

2023 State Budget

An Act making appropriations for the fiscal year 2023 for the maintenance of the departments, boards, commissions, institutions, and certain activities of the commonwealth, for interest, sinking fund, and serial bond requirements, and for certain permanent improvements

Commonly referred to as the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget

The current status can be found on this official link
FY2023 Budget


Further reading

The Legislative Process in Massachusetts
MassLegalServices | 4 pages | 2019

The Legislative Process in Massachusetts (PDF)
Public Employees Retirement Commission | 20 pages | 2002

Page last updated: January 26, 2023
Page last reviewed: January 25, 2023