Train service plan revived in Rhode Island

December 22, 2015

By Patrick Anderson, Journal Staff Writer, Providence Journal, Friday, December 18, 2015

Language in the $1.1-trillion spending bill passed on Friday by Congress rekindles old plans to bring Amtrak train service to T.F. Green Airport, according to U.S. Sen. Jack Reed.Website Insert Passenger Trains Very Well copy

Among the thousands of pages in the bill, which will fund the federal government through next fall, Reed inserted a provision that directs Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration to study bringing train service to airports without it that are “adjacent to the mainline of the Northeast Corridor,” Reed’s office said.

That would almost certainly include — and perhaps only include — T.F. Green, which has often been described as the closest airport to an Amtrak line in the United States. (An airport in Burbank, California, was determined by PolitiFact RI to be closer.)

The $267-million Intermodal station known as the “Interlink” was conceived specifically with Amtrak service in mind, but the national railroad decided not to stop there, leaving Rhode Island to settle for limited commuter rail service from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The dream of adding Amtrak, however, did not die.

When the state built the station, which included a parking garage and skywalk to the terminal, it left space to build a second platform and fourth track if Amtrak should want them in the future.

The provision included in the spending bill, which Reed inserted from his position as ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriation Committee’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, or THUD, subcommittee, does not set aside a specific dollar amount for airport train service studies nor provide a timeline.

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