Gov. Charlie Baker, Massachusetts Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler, and MBTA GM Steve Poftak were joined this week by state and local elected leaders and community partners to celebrate the completion of the $159 million contract for South Coast Rail Main Line construction.
The celebration took place at a ribbon-cutting event at the brand-new Freetown Commuter Rail Station, according to MBTA's news release.
The $159 million contract awarded in May 2020 was the first major construction package awarded for South Coast Rail Phase 1. It 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, 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,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “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.”
The event also featured state, MassDOT, and MBTA officials riding four of the MBTA’s 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 December 2019 for 80 Hyundai-Rotem bi-level coaches.
The first four of the 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.
When complete, Phase 1 of the South Coast Rail project will provide a one-seat trip from southeastern Massachusetts to Boston in less than 90 minutes. Phase 1 brings Commuter Rail service to the Taunton, Fall River, and New Bedford communities through the extension of a secondary rail line west to Taunton from the existing Middleborough/Lakeville Commuter Rail station, and the creation of the Fall River Secondary Line and New Bedford Main Line.