North South Rail Link

The North South Rail Link is the type of visionary, transformative investment Massachusetts and New England need to compete in a 21st Century global economy. I spoke at length with the Boston Globe about the idea.

Here's a link to the Boston Globe article

The Issue:

Right now, our region is served by two separate rail systems with 14 commuter rail lines, 138 stations, and 388 miles of track that are divided by a one-mile gap. Commuters cannot ride a train from north of Boston to anywhere south of Boston without making 3 connections, which includes having to get on and off of 2 subway lines.

Massachusetts currently plans to spend at least $2B adding surface tracks and layover facilities to North and South Stations, which will provide only short-term capacity relief and no improvement in service or efficiency.

We can’t find any other city around the globe that is enlarging stub-end terminals like this. As we’ve examined the business case for the rail link proposal, we’ve come to understand that it provides far greater value to the city and the region.

What is the North South Rail Link?

The North South Rail is a 2.8 mile tunnel between North and South Stations, built below Boston’s Central Artery with tunnel boring machines. This is NOT at all like the Big Dig, which was constructed by tearing up downtown Boston from the top down, rather than boring through bedrock underneath the city.

NSRL_before_and_after.jpg

Why it makes sense:

  • With one train line, we can connect our region’s transportation network.
  • The project creates tremendous economic development opportunities, both in Boston and well outside.
  • Modern tunnel-boring machines will make construction nearly invisible and straightforward – no repeat of the Big Dig.
  • The link avoids the need to spend $2B to expand surface rail use on valuable urban sites around South Station, and reduces existing rail footprint at waterfront terminals.
  • It will also improve the operating efficiency of the MBTA rail system with an estimated annual savings of $140M, which could help pay back much of the investment.

The NSRL isn't a crazy idea—it’s a smart one. Let's take a serious look at it.