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East-West Rail Study Derailed By Massachusetts Budget Negotiators

An Amtrak train arrives at the downtown Holyoke, MA rail platform

   The final state budget passed by the Massachusetts legislature did not contain funds to study high-speed rail between Boston and Springfield.

    The measure’s sponsor, Democratic Senator Eric Lesser, said he is very disappointed the study was removed by the six-member conference committee that put together the final budget during weeks of secret negotiations.

     "The Senate has now passed this item three years in a row on unanimous bipartisan votes, so I think the public should be frustrated about this and should begin to ask questions about how this got held up and why," Lesser said.

   Last year, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed the east-west rail study after lobbying by Peter Picknelly, owner of Peter Pan Bus Lines.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.