South Coast Rail Start Delayed Until Spring 2025

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NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (State House News Service— The long-awaited MBTA commuter rail expansion to the South Coast will not open to passengers until next spring, nearly 18 months after the original opening date attached to the project.

After sharing the latest outlook with community members Thursday night, T officials announced Friday that they now expect service to begin in spring 2025, a delay they said would allow "more resources and attention to make South Coast Rail reliable on the first day of service and beyond."

Read More: Boston City Officials Are Staying Quiet About Plans If Celtics Win

The New Bedford Light reported that MBTA General Manager Phil told attendees at a Thursday meeting that he realized in the spring the timeline for South Coast Rail had been "slipping." Eng earlier this year named Karen Antion as the new project manager, and MBTA officials said that move was "needed to ensure the success and safety of the project."

It's the latest delay for a project that has been postponed several times. In December 2022, while celebrating a project milestone, then-MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said passengers could expect to begin riding the new rails by the end of 2023. By the fall of 2023, officials changed the timeline to summer 2024, and this spring, the T's leadership suggested that goal might no longer be possible.

Debate about expanding commuter rail service to the South Coast stretches back decades.

Once complete, the $1.1 billion project's first phase will offer commuter rail service linking Boston to New Bedford, Fall River and other nearby communities. State officials say Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford are the only major cities within 50 miles of Boston that lack commuter rail access to the state's capital.

T officials said four of the extension's stations -- Fall River, Freetown, Middleborough and Church Street -- are complete, and two more in Ned Bedford and East Taunton will be finished this summer.

Test trains will begin running Monday at speeds of up to 79 miles per hour, and Eng urged locals to be careful near tracks. Between August and January, the T will also test anti-collision technology on the system.

The agency also announced a fare structure for the extension. All South Coast Rail stations will be in Zone 8, so passengers will owe $12.25 for a one-way ticket or $388 for a monthly pass.

Officials said the distance between Boston and the new stations suggests they should be placed in either Zone 8 or Zone 9.

Written by Chris Lisinski/SHNS

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