Moulton, Baker to meet on N-S Rail Link

Connecting the north and south halves of the state's commuter rail system could promote economic development

US Rep. Seth Moulton indicated his push for a rail link between North and South stations in Boston is picking up some momentum.

He told a small group of business executives in Salem that he is meeting with Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday to talk about the rail link and he hinted that a “private infrastructure investor” is interested in the project.

Moulton said Baker, whose administration has shown little interest in the rail link, is now neutral on the project but “not wanting to address it before the coming election,” according to an article in the Salem News.

The state is spending close to $2 million on a study examining the rail link, but transportation officials rarely, if ever, talk about it. They are more focused on expanding South Station to handle more trains there.

The push for linking North Station and South Station was driven initially by former governor Michael Dukakis but now it has become a signature issue for Moulton even as he tries to build support for a Democratic takeover of the House and deals with speculation about his presidential ambitions.

Moulton pushed for two studies of the idea — one looking at cost and one examining economic development potential — and secured funding for the latter from the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, which represents the state’s top business leaders and has sway with the governor.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

The economic development study brought in experts from around the world who acknowledged they didn’t know if the rail link was economically feasible but liked its potential to connect the north and south halves of the state’s commuter rail system. They said the connection would allow for the creation of a regional rail system capable of moving workers around the region more quickly and promoting economic development outside Boston, particularly in Gateway Cities. “We like the strong vision of the project,” said Rick Krochalis, a member of the Seattle Design Commission who was one of the experts brought in to review the rail link idea.

The North-South Rail Link is still a long way from being a front-burner issue, but Moulton, Dukakis, and a host of transit advocates have succeeded in pulling the project out of the trash bin and putting it on the table for discussion.