The proposed study comes at a time when officials in Massachusetts are trying to speed up negotiations to purchase sections of track from railroad company CSX Corp. The 22.8-mile track from Worcester to Framingham is one of the few pieces of railroad that is used for commuter service, but is not owned by the state. Politicians say acquiring that track is the best way to increase commuter service to the area.
The letter that McGovern, Olver and Kathy Castor (D-Florida) and James Oberstar (D-Minnesota) sent asked the GAO to "examine liability and indemnity provisions of existing and pending commuter-freight rail agreements, and to study the effects those agreements have on federal and state governments. "
In other train-related news, the MBTA is on track to set a new ridership record for the fiscal year that ends June 30th, according to an article in today's Boston Globe/Boston.com. The current record was set in 2001 with 354,162,000 riders. Ridership is up on subway, commuter rail, bus, and the commuter boats with the biggest jumps in riders occurring on the subways and buses.
The T also reported that the 10,000th person recently signed up for the T Alerts system. This may not be that shocking - most of the subscribers to T Alerts are commuter rail riders.