I will support expanding the frequency and speed of commuter rail service, to attract more passengers and reduce its environmental impact, by converting it to electric-powered trains. Most modern commuter rail systems worldwide use electric trains, but the MBTA still uses diesel locomotives. Electric trains have faster acceleration, so trip times can be up to 30% faster. They also can be split into shorter trains, making it economical to operate frequent all-day services, every 10 or 15 minutes, more like the T in Boston. Together, these changes can double ridership and lessen noise and air pollution, as electric trains are quieter and don’t emit any fumes.
A recent study of commuter rail line services in Toronto showed that these changes can bring $5 in benefits for every $1 in cost. Since the trains, tracks and train crew are needed anyway, the extra fare revenue can pay back the initial investment to convert to electric trains, reducing the burden on taxpayers. And because it will lead to dramatically increased ridership, it will take pressure off our overcrowded roads. As a Congressman, I will also push to have the power for the system come from renewable sources so the entire commuter rail system can be emission-free.
The MBTA has explored many initiatives, but has never seriously investigated electrification. I spent a year supervising the design and engineering of an electric, high-speed railroad, building the partnerships between the government and private sector to make it happen. (The line has been endorsed by local officials and is moving toward construction in Dallas.) We need this kind of vision and experience to build modern transportation infrastructure in the 6th District that will attract businesses here, create jobs during construction, and make our community a better, more sustainable place to live.