Lawmakers pushing for MBTA Commuter Rail electrification by 2035

State lawmakers are pushing new legislation that would finally set deadlines for electrifying the Commuter Rail, four years after the MBTA committed to the project.

Much of the testimony at a roughly four-hour Joint Committee on Transportation hearing Monday focused on the proposed bill, which would require electrification of the entire Commuter Rail system by Dec. 31, 2035.

Electrification of three lines that serve “environmental justice populations” — Fairmount from South Station to Readville, Newburyport/Rockport from North Station to Beverly and the entire Providence/Stoughton Line — would occur first, by Dec. 31, 2024, the bill states.

“From our end, there is no policy in place right now that sets deadlines for this; there’s nothing in the statute,” state Sen. Brendan Crighton, who filed the Senate version of the bill and co-chairs the joint committee, told the Herald.

“I think that this administration has put a lot more focus on electrifying rail so I’m confident they’re doing a lot of these things already. But I think deadlines are important when we’re dealing with an issue as urgent as this,” he added.

Crighton put forward similar legislation last session, but the deadlines for Commuter Rail electrification, included as amendments for a climate bill that passed, “did not come out in conference committee,” he said.

He, along with state Reps. Steven Owens and Jennifer Armini, refiled the deadlines as Senate and House bills this session “with the hopes of passing it to law,” Crighton said.

The bills also dictate that the MBTA and its Commuter Rail operator, Keolis, must ensure that zero-emission infrastructure is in place to meet the deadlines for electrification.

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