New Hampshire is inching closer to studying the costs and benefits of restoring commuter rail service.
A joint legislative committee recommends using close to 400 thousand dollars in state toll revenues to match funds from the federal railroad administration. The money, up to 1.9 million dollars, would be used to study a commuter rail extension from Lowell up through Concord.
Last year, the state rejected the 4.2 million dollars in federal and state grants to do that study.
Now with a Democratic majority in the House and Executive Council, rail proponents are seeing signs of optimism.
Tom Mahon chairs the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority.
He says up to this point, nobody could conclude one way or another whether the benefits of rail outweigh the costs.
"What it boiled down is that even though some committee members aren’t in favor of commuter rail because of what they perceive as the long term financial liability to the state, they still want to see the data."
Mahon says he expects to meet with the governor and executive council in February for final approval to move forward with the commuter rail study.