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Don’t get your hopes up about commuter rail service

It was a packed house at the Nashua Public Library on Thursday night, as more than 225 people turned out to learn more about of feasibility of extending commuter rail service from Massachusetts through the Gate City to Manchester, and perhaps beyond.

The two big takeaways for the decidedly pro-train audience were that train service would spur much-desired economic expansion, and that it would cost a lot of money to build and maintain – likely too much, considering the state’s fiscal resources and political climate.

Even though the federal government would pay for about half of the up-front costs and Massachusetts would contribute, as well, New Hampshire would still be on the hook for $72 million, not including operating expenses.

Hopes for expanded train service took a hit in this month’s election when Republicans were brought back to power in the House of Representatives and they nominated Bill O’Brien as speaker. This week, O’Brien again made clear his enmity for trains.

“It’s not an energy- efficient way to move people, not a good use of money, and it would create a state bureaucracy that requires more taxation to sustain,” O’Brien told the New Hampshire Union Leader.

There does not appear to be anything in the study that would change O’Brien’s opinion, which means Nashua should robustly pursue its discussions about bringing the MBTA to Tyngsborough.