South Coast rail extension start delayed again to spring 2025

Local News

MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng headed to New Bedford and Fall River to announce May 2025 as the new start of service, which is the project’s third delay.

South Coast rail extension start delayed again to spring 2025
MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

The South Coast Rail Project — the MBTA’s plan to extend commuter rail service to New Bedford, Fall River, and Taunton — is now set to begin service in the spring of 2025 after multiple delays. 

MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng traveled to New Bedford and Fall River last week to announce the third delay for the project, which was initially set for late 2023. In November, the MBTA said service could start this summer. 

But in April, the MBTA avoided setting a launch date for the rail, which would give South Coast commuters a one-seat ride to Boston for the first time in more than 70 years. The Fall River Herald News reported that Eng set May 2025 as the South Coast Rail’s new beginning of service.

Eng said he wanted to unveil the new schedule at the two in-person meetings last week because “it became apparent that the schedule does not match what we had publicly advertised,” the Herald News reported

The delays come after an MBTA spokesperson said in April that a new project executive was evaluating “all aspects” of the South Coast Rail project. The MBTA said in a statement that pushing back the start of service allows for “more resources and attention” for the commuter rail extension.

South Coast Rail will serve South Coast communities from the Middleborough/Lakeville commuter rail line, which currently ends in Middleborough. The line then splits after Taunton to enter Fall River and New Bedford. Eventually, the project will also extend the Stoughton Line to the South Coast.

“The MBTA is deeply committed to delivering the South Coast Rail project while upholding the highest standards of quality and safety before launching passenger service,” Eng said in a statement. “We are dedicated to providing the public with a reliable and dependable railroad system they can count on.”

How much will it cost to ride South Coast Rail?

Eng announced last week that all six South Coast Rail stations will be priced in Zone 8, answering a looming question for commuters. The Commuter Rail is on a zoned pricing system, ranging from $2.40 for Zone 1A in Boston metro to Zone 10 – where commuters can get to North Kingstown, R.I. for $13.25.

A one-way ticket to Freetown, Fall River Depot, Middleborough, Church Street, East Taunton, and New Bedford will be $12.25, or a reduced fare of $6. 

But schedules, including the daily train times and weekend availability, have still not been announced. 

Residents will begin to see test trains starting Monday, with trains traveling up to 79 mph, the MBTA announced last week. The Herald News reported that four of the six stations are complete, while New Bedford and East Taunton stations will be completed later this summer.

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