The NHRTA is making progress toward its ultimate goal of expanding rail from Boston, MA to Concord, NH. In February 2015, the NH Department of Transportation released the NH Capitol Corridor Study, which examined the feasibility of expanding passenger rail into New Hampshire. The study results indicate that rail expansion would have substantial economic development impacts in terms of job creation, commercial and residential real estate growth, and millions of dollars reinvested in worker earnings.
The Capitol Corridor study detailed the extensive benefits of expanding passenger rail to Manchester. Rail expansion would:
- Create a multi-modal transportation infrastructure for the state
- Improve access to the entire region
- Expand housing opportunities
- Create thousands of jobs
- Provide access to jobs in greater Boston
- Play an integral role in retaining New Hampshire’s young people
- Serve as a catalyst for smart development
Expanded rail service in New Hampshire could be up and running as soon as 2020. But to make that happen, several things need to happen.
With the Capitol Corridor study complete, NHRTA must raise $4 million to complete the project development phase, which consists of a service development plan, detailed financial planning, final engineering, and preparation of funding applications to be sent to the Federal Rail Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. Completing the project development phase is critical for the future of passenger rail service in New Hampshire. NHRTA is currently pushing the New Hampshire legislature to provide funding for the project development phase. Assuming NHRTA obtains the needed $4 million in funding, the project development phase could conceivably kick off later this year.
Following the project development phase, the total capital investment to bring passenger rail to Manchester is estimated at $245.6 million, according to the NH Capitol Corridor study. New Hampshire may also be able to benefit from a significant contribution from the MBTA in the form of rolling stock and trackage rights. That potential contribution, coupled with 50% federal support, could reduce New Hampshire’s total investment to $72 million. The investment required to cover debt service on a 20-year bond and annual operating and maintenance costs would be $11 million annually.
Once these items are complete and funding is secured, construction of stations, tracks and other improvements could take place as soon as 2017, with the potential of service beginning in 2020.
Support from elected officials, businesses, community leaders and the general public will be critical in order to proceed with this project, which has the potential to change the economic landscape of New Hampshire.