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Costs High, Ridership Low For East-West Rail Estimates MassDOT

This is a picture of an Amtrak train

    Constructing a passenger rail link between western and eastern Massachusetts would cost billions of dollars while attracting relatively few riders, according to a report issued Thursday by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

    The capital costs for an east-west rail line range from $2 billion up to $25 billion depending on which service alternatives are pursued from Boston to Springfield to Pittsfield.

    The estimated ridership on a high speed east-west rail line is just 820 passengers a day.

     Democratic State Senator Eric Lesser of Longmeadow said the MassDOT rail study is incomplete.

    "There is not a good explanation of the benefits," said Lesser.  " I believe the ridership numbers are dramatically underestimated."

   MassDOT expects to issue a final report with recommendations for east-west rail by the end of May.

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.