Incoming MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeff Mullan joined Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and CSX leaders at this week's Greater Boston Chamber government affairs forum.
The Lieutenant Governor at that forum announced completion of an historic rail agreement with CSX. Read his comments below.
by Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray
The Governor and I have made it a priority to reform the way state government works. There is no better example of that than the transportation reform package we were able to pass with our partners in the Legislature. The reform effort is on track and implementation will begin November 1 with the new MassDOT.
Today I am pleased to make an historic announcement that moves transportation reform and improved customer service to the next level. After more than two years of tough negotiations, we have finalized a far reaching rail agreement with CSX, the national freight carrier serving Massachusetts.
This agreement will dramatically enhance our passenger and freight rail system in Massachusetts and finally open up a major tract of land in Allston for redevelopment.
Many of the agreement’s major elements were resolved last year. One issue- liability- remained unresolved. CSX for years had insisted on a complete, no-fault liability clause for those stretches of track where its freight trains ran along with passenger trains.
As I said many times during this process, no-fault, means no deal. It was bad public policy, and something we could not accept.
Today I am proud to report that we have reached an agreement under which CSX will help cover the MBTA's liability insurance costs and pay the deductible on the insurance policy if an accident occurs involving a freight train and CSX is clearly at fault because of willful misconduct. Is this everything I wanted in the liability plan? No. But it’s a reasonable compromise, with each party giving some ground so an agreement that is in the public’s long-term best interests can move forward.
With this issue settled, the $100 million rail renewal project is ready to go. Here are some of the key points.
The state will take ownership of the rail lines from Framingham to Worcester. We will take over the lines that run south to Taunton, New Bedford and Fall River- a fundamental step in finally bringing commuter rail service, and the economic growth it can leverage, to the communities of South Coast.
The agreement gives the state ownership of the rail line from Southampton Yard to the MassPort terminals in South Boston and the all important Grand Junction, which is the rail line that crosses the Charles River near Boston University and is the only north-to-south freight rail connection through the city today.
On the freight side, through our accelerated bridge program, we are now at work raising the bridge clearance on state-owned bridges that pass over rail road crossings west of Worcester, so freight trains can roll through the state with two containers stacked on each flatbed. This double-stacking is the standard practice in the rest of the country, but has been impossible here because of the low bridges in Massachusetts.
We will work with CSX to meet federal rules requiring the installation of new technology known as a “positive train control” system by 2015 . The new system will monitor all rail traffic, and can automatically stop all train movements in an area if it detects a potential conflict.
Finally, the city of Boston will see some dramatic changes from this agreement, because it will trigger the redevelopment of Beacon Park Yard- 50 acres along the Charles River in Allston that CSX now uses for its major rail yard. Many of us have driven by it countless times, coming in or out of the city on the MassPike or Storrow Drive. As part of our agreements with CSX, the administration is committed to helping CSX relocate their rail yard operations from Beacon Park, to other sites to the west.
This is an extraordinary opportunity to redevelop and reuse a strategic track of land that sits between the river and the neighborhood, between Harvard and Boston University.
I wish to thank Senator John Kerry and Congressman Jim McGovern for helping lead the negotiations that made this agreement possible. I also wish to recognize Jim Aloisi, Jamey Tesler, and Jeff Mullan from the Executive Office of Transportation for their persistence and hard work in making this happen. And I want to acknowledge Michael Ward, President of CSX Transportation, and his team, including Lisa Mancini and Maurice O’Connell, for continuing to work with us toward agreement.
I've been working on rail issues for a long time, because I know that making better use of our rail network is one of the best things we can do for the long-term health of our economy and our environment. I encourage you to visit our website to learn more about an historic agreement that will bring reliable public transit options to our citizens and expand freight rail service. And visit the web to learn more about New England's Vision for New England High Speed and Intercity Rail.