The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that the Commonwealth’s comprehensive multi-year rail transportation agreement with CSX Transportation (CSXT), the national freight carrier serving Massachusetts, has been submitted for review with the Federal Surface Transportation Board. Filing with the Surface Transportation Board represents another major milestone towards the first closing of the historic agreement expected in May 2010.
In addition, CSXT has reached initial agreement with the Massachusetts Coastal Railroad, Mass Coastal, to take over freight rail activities on the former CSXT South Coast Lines being purchased by the Commonwealth, an important step in the process of bringing passenger rail service to the South Coast and enhancing local freight rail service to the region.
Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray announced the CSXT agreement in September. The Lieutenant Governor had been working on this agreement since he was Mayor of Worcester and led the negotiations on behalf of the administration with critical support from the Governor, Senator John Kerry and Congressman Jim McGovern. The agreement reached in September overcame the final major hurdle, with CSXT agreeing to help defray the MBTA’s liability insurance cost and pay the deductible on the liability insurance policy if a collision occurs involving a freight train and CSXT is clearly at fault because of willful misconduct. More after the break.
The agreement with Mass Coastal calls for sale from CSXT to Mass Coastal of the freight easement rights when the MassDOT purchase of the South Coast Lines is finalized in May 2010. An operating agreement between Mass Coastal and the MBTA will govern use of the lines for freight and passenger rail. The freight agreement with Mass Coastal and purchase of the lines are important steps forward in the plan to reconstruct the lines to bring passenger rail service to the South Coast including Fall River and New Bedford, and provide the foundation for sustained freight rail service and economic development within this important region of the Commonwealth.
The main elements of the overall agreement with CSXT include:
• The Commonwealth will purchase the property rights of the Boston to Worcester rail line from CSXT, increasing the potential for additional commuter service while also taking control of dispatching and maintenance on the line. Through the development of this agreement, the MBTA has already been able to add five Framingham-Boston commuter trains to Worcester on CSX Transportation’s Boston line.
• The Commonwealth and CSXT will increase the vertical clearances of bridges along the railroad main line between I-495 and the New York State line to accommodate double-stack freight trains. The Commonwealth will assume responsibility for raising highway bridges, while CSXT will be responsible for lowering tracks.
• To advance the South Coast Rail project, the Commonwealth will purchase the New Bedford Main Lines and Fall River Secondary rail corridors from CSXT. The Commonwealth will also purchase the Boston Terminal Running Track and West First Street Yard in South Boston and CSXT’s ownership of the Grand Junction secondary line that extends from Beacon Park Yard through Cambridge to East Boston from CSXT.
• In an effort to create capacity for additional commuter rail service over time, the Commonwealth will help CSXT relocate the company’s operations out of Beacon Park Yard in Boston. This relocation will facilitate the redevelopment and reuse of this strategic parcel of land.
• Passenger and freight trains will operate, as much as possible, in exclusive “windows” of time, thereby reducing the chance for conflict and assisting with the efficiency of both freight and passenger service.
• The agreement allocates liability amongst the parties in a way that provides incentives for both parties to operate safely, ensures that payments are made quickly to anyone injured in an accident, and encourages joint problem solving to correct safety concerns.
• CSXT will contribute $500,000 to help defray the cost of the liability insurance policy the MBTA carries for the entire commuter system. Additionally, in the event an accident occurs involving a freight train and CSXT is clearly at fault because of willful misconduct, the rail road will be responsible to pay the deductible on that policy, up to a maximum of $7.5 million per accident.
In July, the Patrick-Murray Administration joined the New England Governors in announcing a coordinated regional vision for high speed rail that will connect major cities and airports, and support economic growth throughout the region. The Vision for the New England High Speed and Intercity Rail Network lays out key projects to strengthen passenger and freight rail service along new and existing rail corridors. Learn more about New England's rail vision.