Following Scott Van Voorhis’ column crowning the North-South Rail Link as his “turkey” project for 2017, a letter to the editor in support of the project and an editorial in the Dec. 11 issue of Banker & Tradesman suggesting that perhaps a rail link is not the best method to connect the two stations, readers continue to respond to the proposal.

The poll on Banker & Tradesman’s homepage also elicited a strong response; as of this writing, more than 600 people answered the question of whether and how a new connection should be established between the stations; 92 percent of voters selected a new rail track as the best option. Five percent suggested that other options should be considered, and 3 percent voted no, noting that Boston doesn’t have a very good history when it comes to massive infrastructure projects.


Advantages Over South Station Expansion

Walter Bonin, chairman of Marlborough Mayor’s Transportation Committee and a member of Regional Transportation Advisory Council of Greater Boston MPO, argues in favor of the rail link at the expense of a South Station expansion. He writes:

  • The following lists some compelling reasons that favor the rail link over expansion of South Station (SSX):
  • Shift storage and maintenance away from center of Boston to end of nodes.
  • Eliminate need for two layover yards.
  • Allow straight through passage between Washington, D.C., and Portland, Maine.
  • Optimizes scheduling of all rail assets.
  • Unlocks massive development potential in downtown Boston.
  • The rail link will give western suburbs convenient access to downtown Boston and TD Garden, etc., and vice versa.
  • It will expand freedom of movement through the entire region and beyond.
  • SSX will have a limited life before it needs to be expanded again. However, land will be very limited if available at all!
  • It fails to solve problems at North Station.
  • Basically the N/S Rail Link is a systemic change with long term benefits while the SSX is not!


With A Global View, Rail Link Is The Right Thing To Do

Former subscriber Richard W. Taylor laments that he could not read B&T’s recent editorial, but suspects the newspaper voiced “considerable support” for the project. Taylor is technical evangelist for Ideate Software, a provider of software solutions for architects, engineers and construction professionals. He has a master’s degree in architecture and has been a member of the local Scituate Planning Board for the past eight years. He has attended many Metropolitan Area Planning Council meetings and is the Scituate representative on the South Shore Coalition. An advocate for transportation oriented development, sustainable design and new-urbanistic principles, he writes:

I work out of my home in Scituate, but I travel the world extensively due to my job. Last year took me to Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong, London and Munich, to name a few. All these cities have AMAZING regional rail systems that are expanding and greatly contributing to their local economy.

One city that was specifically fascinating was Melbourne, Australia. They are building a second rail tunnel under their main business district that seems extremely similar to the North-South Rail Link project in Boston.

While in Melbourne, we visited customers using their excellent regional rail system with both electric and diesel multiple units. The entire system of rail networks, stations and rolling stock make our own MBTA and the Commuter Rail seem like a third-world country.

Rather than bash the T, I want to work to improve service to the Greater Boston Regional Transportation System. The North-South Rail Link would allow seamless access to employment centers around South Station for people north of Boston, and access to employment centers around North Station for people south of Boston (like me).

It would allow people from Scituate to travel to Salem, Lowell or even Porter Square in Cambridge with ease. And although it is important, travel is not always about employment centers and jobs. A true regional transportation network allows more seamless travel throughout the day for non-work related activities. This increases tourist dollars, restaurant dollars and entertainment options throughout all of Greater Boston.

A link would become the backbone or “spine” of a regional transportation network.

I’m fortunate to have the finances and mobility to drive and park whenever I need. However, I’ve seen the benefits, ease and speed of other systems in Asia, Australia and Europe when I travel. I would choose rail over the car ANY day if there were MORE convenient options, faster service and ease to travel where I need to be.

I try to take the commuter rail into Boston from Scituate whenever I can, but it isn’t always convenient, fast or cost effective. (It’s $24 roundtrip with parking, even on the weekends. I can more easily drive to Boston and get discounted parking on the weekends to see a show or eat at a restaurant. However, if the train were faster and more convenient, it would change my mind.) As you can see, I TRY very hard to use public transportation options when they are available, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

Everybody loves to complain about the Big Dig, but that HUGE investment has made downtown Boston a thriving, energetic and beautiful place to be! The Seaport Innovation District and Kendall Square might not have the current booming economy without that type of public investment! Not to mention, the Boston Convention Center and tourist business. Logan Airport has increased the international destinations at an astounding rate. I don’t believe that would have been possible with the terrible connections to the airport that existing prior to the Big Dig. (I remember flying extensively in the ’80s and ’90s for work, and getting to Logan was NOT easy.)

Taking cars and congestion off the road is just the right thing to do. We aren’t building any new roads or lanes, so how do we combat increasing congestion? The North-South Rail Link would take cars off the road by providing a more convenient and faster way to travel to many destinations throughout Greater Boston.

In summary, public investment in infrastructure and transportation produces return on investment ten-fold! Just look to booming cities in Asia, Australia and Europe for their strong transportation networks and ease of mobility.

I always say that Boston will never have the weather of California or the sun-belt cities, but we do have incredible universities, amazing talent and dedicated and hard-working people. This area has the history of being a transportation leader and it has the basic network in place to be a transportation super-star. The North-South Rail Link is the backbone that knits the whole system together as a true regional transportation system for Greater Boston and all of New England.

We are producing cutting edge technology and talent in this region, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t have the best regional transportation system to match our amazing region! Thirty years ago, I could have gone anywhere after college. I chose Greater Boston, and I’ve never been sorry. I’ve traveled to every state in America and hundreds of countries, and I’m always thrilled and proud to come home to Massachusetts. I know we can make the right decision to move this project forward!


All recent coverage of the North-South Rail Link discussions, as well as other transit-related articles and columns, can be found on Banker & Tradesman’s new webpage, “A City On The Move.”

Readers Respond To The North-South Rail Link Proposal

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 5 min