Talking Points

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Elizabeth Warren climbs aboard the North South Rail Link Endorsement Express

Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Reuters/File
Senator Elizabeth Warren.

All aboard for the North South Rail Link Endorsement Express.

Backers of the long-discussed tunnel project say they've landed a high-profile endorser: Senator Elizabeth Warren.  

Mike Dukakis was forced to shelve the North Station-South Station connection in the Big Dig’s formative days. But the former governor has never given up hope.

Dukakis and former state rep John Businger have gathered a long list of politicians, business leaders and other supporters. The Rail Link working group already lists Senator Ed Markey and six of the state’s nine House members as being on board. Representative Seth Moulton regularly touts the project's virtues -- opening up key properties for development, for example, or improving commuting options for the North Shore.

Warren’s press secretary confirmed her boss is supportive, but with a catch: Rail services to the South Coast and Western Massachusetts need to be top priorities as well, she said, so transit options can be added in other parts of the state.

Congressmen Joe Kennedy and Bill Keating have similar concerns, particularly with regard to South Coast Rail, which would extend commuter service down to New Bedford and Fall River.

Of the delegation’s holdouts, only Representative Stephen Lynch is speaking publicly against the project. Lynch, whose district includes North Station and comes close to South Station, says people can use the T to get between the two places, albeit by changing trains. He says he thinks it will be tough to persuade the House leadership to spend $8 billion without showing more benefits, particularly after the Big Dig’s overruns. (The Rail Link’s total cost is a matter of much dispute.)

The North South Rail Link won’t happen without significant funding from Washington. To pull that off, Dukakis and Businger will need all the allies in D.C. that they can get.

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