Costly temporary solution puts north-south rail link at risk
South Station was last expanded in the mid-1990s, with the addition of several tracks and platforms to accommodate new commuter rail services to the South Shore and Worcester. Nearly two decades later, the Commonwealth is planning to increase yet again the capacity of this busy terminal by taking the South Postal Annex and putting at least seven more tracks on its site (“An $850m plan to return South Station to bygone glory,” Page A1, Feb. 23). Almost completely absent from these plans is any recognition that building more dead-end tracks into South Station is a temporary solution, at best, and would likely be eclipsed again in a couple more decades by the anticipated growth in passenger traffic.
Instead, the state Department of Transportation should revisit its long-shelved plans for a direct rail connection between South Station and North Station that would allow for the through running of Amtrak and commuter trains without the wasteful moves that are now a major cause of congestion at both terminals. A first step would be to put the new platforms underground, allowing the tracks to be extended north at a later time.
At the Feb. 22 Move Massachusetts meeting, state Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey stated, in response to a question, that the current plan would not preclude the eventual construction of the north-south rail link. However, the $850 million price tag is a most costly temporary solution, and it could prevent the rail link from ever being built.
The money should be better spent.
The writer is chairman of the transportation committee of the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club.