Commuter Rail

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The Senate Capital Budget Committee voted along party lines on Thursday to not spend $4 million to study building a commuter rail from Boston to New Hampshire.

Democrats proposed the measure, which Governor Maggie Hassan included the money in her state budget, saying a rail would boost the state’s economy.

Photo by Tim Cummins via Flickr Creative Commons

 

Whether or not to spend $4 million to study the impact of bringing commuter rail service from Boston to New Hampshire is coming up for debate before a key Senate committee

The Senate Capital Budget committee will meet Thursday afternoon as it finalizes a proposal for capital spending projects in the next 2-year state budget. The capital budget also includes spending on projects such as a new courthouse and a new women's prison in Concord.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

In the wake of President Obama's recent budget proposals and the continuing threat of ISIS in the Middle East, the U.S. Congress will have a lot of important decisions to make.

To check in with the New Hampshire's delegation, we start by talking with our 2nd Congressional District representative. Congresswoman Anne McLane Kuster joined Morning Edition. 

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A new report finds that extending train service from Boston to Manchester could provide big benefits: more jobs, higher property values, and enhancing the state’s overall attractiveness. Still, skeptics doubt the numbers, both in terms of the number of people who would get on board and how much money it would cost.

GUESTS:

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State officials released the final numbers from a two-year study that looks at the economic impacts of extending commuter rail from Lowell, Massachusetts up through Nashua, Manchester and Concord.

The final report highlights the rail line’s projected economic impact to the area – more jobs, more real estate development and a rise in property values. It also reaffirms the findings from an earlier draft that a line from Lowell to Manchester offers the best value. 

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/photopunk13/565984437/in/photostream/" target="blank">Voluntary Amputation</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

 

New Hampshire's Department of Transportation is set to release its final report on the effects of extending commuter rail from Massachusetts into the southern part of the state.

The New Hampshire Capitol Corridor Rail and Transit study has been ongoing for nearly two years. A preliminary report in November showed that expanding the rail from Lowell, Massachusetts, to Nashua would cost $120 million in capital costs and attract about 174,000 riders a year. That option would create an estimated 1,200 jobs.

In her inaugural address last week, Governor Maggie Hassan made the push for extending commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester.

"We must find a consensus way forward on rail that will build on our many advantages and help set the stage for a new generation of economic growth by keeping more of our young people right here in the Granite State," Hassan said. 

Mass. Office of Travel & Tourism Via Flickr CC

According to the latest study of the so-called Capital Rail Corridor released last night by the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority running commuter rail from Manchester to Boston would cost $246 million dollars, and attract at least 650,000 riders per year.

Many in a standing-room-only audience in Nashua were ready to forge ahead with expanding train service, but the study will likely face a chillier reception in other parts of the state.

Sara Plourde

At 6:15 every morning, Christine Suchecki leaves her house in Windham, NH, and spends the next hour and twenty minutes driving almost 40 miles to her job as a nurse in Boston. Her husband drives in a similar direction, to Waltham, MA. “We just look at it as either you’re going to pay financially in your proximity to the city, or with time in your commute,” Suchecki says.

New Hampshire is looking at whether to accept federal funds to once again study whether passenger and freight trains make sense for the state.  But many of the same concerns are coming up again:  that New Hampshire doesn’t have enough people who would ride the rails to justify the enormous cost.  We'll revisit this debate.

Guests

Photo by Tim Cummins via Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire is inching closer to studying the costs and benefits of restoring commuter rail service.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/photopunk13/565984437/in/photostream/" target="blank">Voluntary Amputation</a> via Flickr/Creative Commons

This week officials with Amtrak’s Downeaster marked ten years in service.

The train line between Portland, Maine and Boston includes several stops in New Hampshire. Ridership is up and there are plans to expand the service next year.

Peter Griffin is president of the New Hampshire Railroad Revitalization Association. He tells All Things Considered host Brady Carlson about the Downeaster's ten years in service.