In 2017 the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the Vermont Agency of Transportation, in coordination with the Connecticut Department of Transportation completed a two-year feasibility and planning study known as the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative (aka the NNEIRI /nɪri:/ Study).
The NNEIRI Study examined the opportunities and impacts of adding more frequent and higher speed intercity passenger rail service on two major rail routes, the Inland Route and the Boston-to-Montreal Route.
The Inland Route runs between Boston, Mass. and New Haven, Ct. via Springfield, Mass. The Boston-to-Montreal Route runs between Boston and Montreal, Que. via Springfield. The two routes share trackage between Boston and Springfield.
The Study recommends that the following new services be provided along the NNEIRI Corridor:
- Eight (8) new daily round trip trains between Boston and New Haven,
- One (1) new daily round trip between Boston and Montreal, and
- One (1) new daily round trip between New Haven and Montreal.
The Build Alternative proposed in the study projects a total annual ridership of 875,000 passengers.
The capital costs to implement the services of the Preferred Alternative — which includes the purchase of new train sets and infrastructure improvements — would be between $1.1 and $1.2 billion (in 2014 dollars), as detailed in the following chart.
It should be noted that no current funding is designated or available for any of the services in the Preferred Alternative of the NNEIRI Study at this time.
On July 19, 2016 the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a Finding of No Significant Impact on the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative. The FRA found that no significant environmental impacts would result from adding more frequent and higher speed intercity passenger rail service, in large part due to the use of existing operating rail lines within existing rights-of-way.
The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is currently advocating in concert the Western Massachusetts legislative delegation, and affected cities and towns, to move forward with the recommendations emanating from the study.
WWLP-22News Special Report: Springfield-Boston Rail Service
January 29, 2017
Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative (Official website)
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)
Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative
Federal Railroad Administration | July 14, 2016
Rail Matters | Office of Senator Eric Lesser
University Survey Finds Strong Support for Springfield-Boston High-Speed Rail Service
Western New England University Polling Institute | November 13, 2017
Page last updated: November 14, 2017
Page last reviewed: November 14, 2017