Transit advocates call for electrified 'regional rail' during Mass. Pike reconstruction

Cyrus Moulton | Worcester Telegram and Gazette

Anticipating a decade of traffic delays during the reconstruction of a key portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike, a new report proposes the Worcester commuter rail line be converted to electrified, frequent, subway-like service to ease traffic jams and prove the concept of regional rail.

“The need for frequent and reliable transit and rail mobility along this corridor is urgent,” said the report, “Regional Rail Proof of Concept: How Modern Operating Practice Adds Capacity to the Current Commuter Rail Network,” by transportation advocacy nonprofit TransitMatters. “The MBTA should immediately increase off-peak frequency, and invest money in electrification and new rolling stock to commence high-quality Regional Rail operations as soon as possible.”

The nonprofit group estimates the cost of the Worcester line at $500 million. It proposes paying for this - and the conversion to a full regional rail system - by reallocating money from the $2 billion to $3 billion proposed expansion of South Station.