Gov. of Massachusetts Charlie Baker, Massachusetts Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler and MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak celebrated the substantial completion of the $159 million contract for South Coast Rail Main Line construction.
The $159 million contract awarded in May 2020 was the first major construction package awarded for South Coast Rail Phase 1 and included construction of two brand-new stations in Freetown and Fall River, construction of the all-new Weaver’s Cove layover facility, upgrades and modernization work on over 12 miles of track that were previously used for freight, as well as work on nine bridges, 11 culverts and 10 grade crossings.
A second $403.5 million major construction contract for South Coast Rail Phase 1 was awarded in August 2020 to build South Coast Rail’s New Bedford Line, upgrade the Middleborough Secondary and construct brand-new stations in East Taunton, Middleborough, two in New Bedford, a layover facility and the Phase 1 signal and communication systems. Once this work is substantially complete, the South Coast Rail project will begin the commissioning process with Phase 1 anticipated to begin passenger service by late 2023.
“Following many years of hard work, today is a tremendous milestone for South Coast Rail Phase 1 as the first contract for the project nears completion,” Baker said. “Our Administration is proud and excited to have seen the work around this corridor take shape and to celebrate these Phase 1 advancements, which will benefit the region with expanded commuter rail service to Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford and the surrounding communities beginning late next year.”
“After years of collaboration and millions of dollars in investments, we’re pleased to celebrate the substantial completion of the first contract for South Coast Rail Phase 1, which will provide service between southeastern Massachusetts communities and Boston,” Tesler said. “With the Baker-Polito Administration’s strong commitment to establishing passenger train service between the south coast and Boston, this is an exceptional milestone for MassDOT and the MBTA and a proud moment for the commonwealth. South Coast Rail Phase 1 is just one of many examples of how the Baker-Polito Administration has transformed the capital planning process to provide an integrated, long-term strategy focused on improvements in all transportation modes and regions of the commonwealth.”
“As work crews make progress on South Coast Rail Phase 1, we’re excited to celebrate the completion of Freetown station, which is another major step for the project and bringing a one-seat commuter rail ride from Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford to Boston in late 2023,” Poftak said. “This is also an exciting day for all commuter rail passengers, as we begin to welcome the first of the MBTA’s new bi-level coaches into the fleet, expanding capacity for riders. Thank you to the Baker-Polito Administration for their strong support throughout the South Coast Rail project, MassDOT for their solid foundation and continued collaboration, countless local and community leaders for their advocacy and the entire South Coast Rail project team and workforce for their work on this incredible service expansion project.”
The event also featured state, MassDOT and MBTA officials riding four of the MBTA’s brand-new, bi-level commuter rail coaches, 16 of which are being procured in support of South Coast Rail as part of the $278.5 million contract awarded in September 2019 for 80 Hyundai-Rotem bi-level coaches. These coaches feature upgrades and improvements like LED lighting, and the integration of Positive Train Control, which will replace single-level coaches and address an immediate need for additional vehicles, providing a more efficient way to add capacity.
The first four of the brand-new bi-level pilot coaches were received by the MBTA in June 2022, a second set of four delivered in July 2022, a third set of four delivered in September 2022 and a fourth set of four delivered in November 2022, with the remaining coaches delivering on a regular basis through the summer of 2024. All of these new bi-level coaches undergo a robust safety evaluation, inspection and qualification testing process by MBTA Vehicle Engineering and Commuter Rail staff at the MBTA’s Commuter Rail Maintenance facility in Rochester. The first coaches are anticipated to enter passenger commuter rail service before the end of the year, with more coaches added on a rolling basis following the completion of qualification testing.