News & Reviews News Wire Start of MBTA South Coast Rail service pushed back to spring 2025

Start of MBTA South Coast Rail service pushed back to spring 2025

By Trains Staff | June 17, 2024

| Last updated on June 18, 2024

Agency CEO Eng says project required new leadership ‘to ensure success and safety’

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

Commuter train at station platform
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority HSP46 No. 2032, one of 40 of the MotivePower units on the roster, leads Boston South Station-Middleborough train No. 1007 into the station at Braintree, Mass., Feb. 11, 2024. Completion of the South Coast Rail project, extending the Middleborough line to New Bedford and Fall River, has been pushed back. Scott A. Hartley

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Completion of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s $1.1 billion South Coast Rail project — to extend commuter rail service to Fall River and New Bedford — has been pushed back to May 2025, more than a year and a half after the original target date for the launch of service.

The MBTA announced in a June 14 press release that test trains on the line will began running today (Monday, June 17), and that agency CEO Phillip Eng had reviewed the project and determined “new project leadership was needed to ensure the success and safety of the project. The timeline adjustment to spring 2025 … allows for more resources and attention to make South Coast Rail reliable on the first day of service and beyond.” The testing beginning today will involve the line’s Automatic Train Control and positive train control systems and will run through January, after which the Federal Railroad Administration will be involved in certification of operating crews, final inspections, and demonstration operation without passengers.

The New Bedford Light reports that Eng announced the latest delay in June 13 public meetings in New Bedford and Fall River, and said the service would start in May 2025. While Eng and other MBTA representatives provided technical details about the project, the newpaper reports, they offered less information about what had led to the delays or the change in project management, with Eng saying, “We needed to dive into what was occurring and why it was occurring.”

The initial build of the South Coast Rail project will add six stations to the existing Middleborough line. Four of the six stations are complete; other preparations have included the overhaul of four locomotives and purchase of 16 bilevel railcars. The initial service will extend a secondary line west from the end of the existing Middleborough line to reach Taunton, Mass., with two branches heading south to reach Fall River and New Bedford. A long-term plan calls for the Stoughton Line to be extended south to provide a more direct route to Taunton, with another five stations added.

— Updated at 7:50 a.m. CT to correct date to May 2025 in third paragraph.

Map of commuter rail line to southern Massachusetts
The Phase 1 version of the MBTA’s South Coast Rail project. Service is now projected to begin in spring 2025, the transit agency announced Friday. MBTA

One thought on “Start of MBTA South Coast Rail service pushed back to spring 2025

  1. It’s delayed but the significant news is that’s it’s happening at all. $1.1 Billion for an indirect commuter route. It has always surprised me that these longer commuter routes such as the outer reaches of Chicago METEA (Harvard, McHenry, Naperville, Kenosha, etc.) could attract patronage. Most of them do.

    Bristol County (Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford) hasn’t been seen as especially prosperous or prime commuter territory to Boston. Let’s hope that for all the expenditure of time and money, this service will succeed.

    On a wider note, New Haven Railroad’s Old Colony passenger service was dead, buried, physically demolished, but not forgotten, after about 1959 or so. The frequent commuter trains now rolling through Quincy tell the story.

You must login to submit a comment