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Massachusetts South Coast Rail Project faces third delay; completion now expected in 2025

South Coast Rail project faces third delay as test trains scheduled
South Coast Rail project faces third delay as test trains scheduled 00:38

BOSTON - The South Coast Rail project is facing a third delay - this time until 2025 - as the MBTA plans to send test trains head out to Middleboro, Taunton, Fall River Freetown and New Bedford in an effort to connect the area to Boston by rail for the first time in more than 70 years.

Where is the South Coast Rail Project at?

The long-awaited rail project was supposed to debut in the summer of 2024, but MBTA General Manager Phil Eng said he reviewed the project and determined it needs new leadership. However, the project will be one step closer to completion when the MBTA begins running test trains on the lines Monday.

"Safety is our top priority for the project. Test trains, which start on Monday, will travel up to 79 miles per hour, and I urge our Taunton, New Bedford, and Fall River neighbors to stay clear of track areas and abide by all warning lights and signs at grade crossings. Together, we can finish the testing period as safely as possible," said MBTA South Coast Rail Program Executive Karen Antion.  

What is the plan for the South Coast Rail Project?

The project spans six stations -- Middleboro, East Taunton, Freetown, Fall River Depot, New Bedford and Church Street (in north New Bedford). The South Coast Rail has been classified as Zone 8, meaning full fare to ride the trains will be $12.25, with a reduced fare of $6.

Four of the stations are complete, and the remaining two stations - in New Bedford and East Taunton - are expected to be finished by the end of the summer. The MBTA says the trains will have new, bi-level coaches to offer comfort and a a larger passenger capacity. Commuters will be able to go from Taunton, Fall River or New Bedford to Boston in about 90 minutes.

The MBTA must also run the project through the Federal Railroad Administration's New Start program, which requires new rail projects to comply with federal regulations before passenger service begins.

"We recognize this project is especially important for the Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton communities, and the surrounding region. Through testing and quality control measures, we are dedicated to providing the public with a reliable and dependable railroad system they can count on," Eng said.  

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