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MassDOT Wins More Federal Funds to Plan Increased Boston-Albany Amtrak Service

A map of Massachusetts with a cross of rail lines representing north-south Amtrak routes through the CT River Valley and east-west routes from Albany to Boston. The cross meets in Springfield. An icon in the lower right describes the vision as "Compass Rail: passenger rail for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"

A schematic map of existing and proposed Amtrak services in western Massachusetts. New proposed services include the red line, an inland route from New Haven, CT to Boston, via Springfield, and the blue line, a new Boston-Albany route. Courtesy of MassDOT.

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Last week, the Biden administration's Federal Railroad Administration awarded a $500,000 grant to MassDOT to plan for additional Amtrak service between Boston and Albany.

"The proposed Corridor would connect Boston, MA, and Albany, NY, via Springfield, MA. The proposed Corridor would provide up to eight daily round-trip passenger trains on an existing alignment that is currently being used by Amtrak’s long-distance Lake Shore Limited," according to a grant announcement from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

The funding would kick off a "service development plan" for additional passenger rail service across the width of Massachusetts, connecting Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Pittsfield with Albany, NY – a metropolitan area of 1.2 million people that's just 20 miles from the state line.

This grant comes from the FRA's new Corridor Identification and Development Program, a new planning program created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021.

The Corridor ID grants aim to create "a pipeline of intercity passenger rail projects ready for implementation and future investment," according to an FRA grant announcement.

Through a different FRA program, MassDOT also recently won a $108 million grant to upgrade tracks on the central segment of the east-west rail corridor, between Springfield and Worcester.

With those improvements, MassDOT expects to cut passenger rail travel times between Springfield and Boston to about 2 hours. But the project would also build more double-tracked sections to allow more trains to operate in both directions along the route.

In addition to the existing Lake Shore Limited service from Boston to Chicago (with one round-trip per day) and this proposed new daily Boston-Albany service, MassDOT also aims to add two new daily Amtrak trips on the "inland route" from Boston to New Haven via Springfield.

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