Nashua to MA rail service is still in progress

NASHUA – The company working to bring a commuter rail service connecting the Gate City to Massachusetts recently bought the first trains for its plans to connect rail service from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Providence, Rhode Island.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Vincent Bono, the CEO of Boston Surface Railroad Co.

Company officials just completed the purchase of two locomotives from the New Haven, Connecticut, rail service, and will prep them to use for its first Massachusetts service. Bono said his company is working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to negotiate the rights to passenger rail service. His company is also about to apply a federal grant than could be worth up to $1 million in matching grants.

“We have $1 million of our own money that, hopefully, the feds will match,” Bono said.

Boston Surface Railroad entered into an agreement with Nashua last year to partner on a commuter rail service connecting southern New Hampshire commuters to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) service in Lowell. Nashua officials tried and failed to get state support for a commuter rail line, and instead are now working with the private company. According to the terms of the agreement, Nashua is not liable for any of the costs of starting the rail line, but will assist in applying for grants.

Bono said the company is 20 months away from starting its Worcester to Providence operations. From there, he said Boston Surface Railroad will work on expanding to New Hampshire, in addition to a service connecting Lowell to Worcester. Bono said his company took a wait-and-see approach to efforts last year to get state support for a New Hampshire service.

“There is no way we could compete with a publicly funded competition,” Bono said.

With the end of the push for state support, Bono said his company is going “full steam ahead.”

Bono said his company will operate a boutique service for business commuters. Without government support, the price per ticket will be higher than government-backed services, such as the MBTA.

The New Hampshire line is proposed to have a stop in Bedford, near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, and one in Nashua, before ending its run in Lowell, Massachusetts. There, commuters could get MBTA service into Boston.

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245 or dfisher@nashua or @Telegraph_DF.