Senator Eric Lesser is so eager to get rail service between Boston and Springfield, he rented a bus to bring supporters to a State House hearing tomorrow.
The irony isn’t lost on him. With just one two-hour-plus Amtrak trip per day to Boston, taking the train would be impractical. He hopes to change that. (No, he did not charter a Peter Pan bus.)
Lesser is pushing a bill that would require state officials to study connecting Boston and Springfield by high-speed rail. He envisions a 90-minute trip (and preferably one that’s faster), with relatively frequent service.
The Senate passed similar legislation three times in the last three years. Each time, it either died in negotiations with the House or under a veto from Governor Charlie Baker. To Lesser, a Longmeadow Democrat, the “East-West Rail” project is key to unlocking the economic potential in Western Mass. Connecticut plans to launch commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield next year. That should help. But Lesser really wants to ride the wave in Greater Boston.
The topic could become a campaign issue for Baker. Potential challenger Setti Warren raised it in his call to promote Worcester for Amazon’s HQ2.
Worcester’s Amazon bid didn’t even mention the high-speed rail idea. Worcester Regional Chamber chief executive Tim Murray says that’s because the concept is a long-term goal, one requiring more infrastructure money out of Washington that will take time to line up. He tried for years to help expand Worcester’s MBTA service. Now, there are 20 trains a day.
Lesser saw what this did for Worcester. Now, he would argue, it’s time for his part of the state to get its fair share.Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.