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The North/South Rail Link

Connecting the last gap in the East Coast's rail service

The North-South Rail Link is a proposed pair of approximately 1.5 mile-long rail tunnels below downtown Boston, Massachusetts. The tunnels would unify Boston's separate northern and southern MBTA Commuter Rail terminals, and provide direct linkage between Amtrak's southerly service to Washington D.C. and its northeastern service to Portland, Maine. Both Amtrak and the commuter rail networks terminate at North and South Stations. Present connections Public transit connects North Station to South Station only indirectly, requiring two rail lines, either the Green Line and the Red Line or the Orange Line and the Red Line.

The purpose of building the North South Rail Link project (NSRL) is to create the backbone for a modern, efficient, convenient rail service that offers an attractive transportation option for residents and tourists traveling throughout New England and the entire Northeast; people who are concerned about continued airport and highway expansion and its detrimental effect upon the environment and the economy. It will close the only gap in the East Coast’s intercity rail system. This tunnel connection between North Station and South Station in Boston will allow Amtrak’s successful Northeast Corridor (NEC) Acela high speed rail service to extend through Boston to benefit people in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada. This will greatly enhance the federal investment already made in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor because continuous interstate/intercity rail service, for the first time, will be available along the entire East Coast.

Also it will connect the two existing, but separate, commuter rail systems operated by the MBTA; one that terminates at North Station and one that terminates at South Station. Both stations are suffering from capacity issues because they operate as "stub-end" rather than "flow-through" systems, requiring trains to be stored rather than in service at all times. The NSRL, by connecting the two stations, will allow passengers to travel seamlessly from cities and towns on the northern commuter rail system, to cities and towns on the southern commuter rail system, and vice versa; enhancing the public investment by dramatically increasing the frequency and accessibility of train travel for residents and visitors alike.

Ridership figures project that the North South Rail Link would eliminate at least 55,000 trips daily from our highway system. Environmental studies for the project released in the summer show that the North South Rail Link will result in the largest absolute time savings of any transportation project in Massachusetts, and clean our air by eliminating more than 582 tons of the global warming gas CO2 daily.

The Sierra Club is seeking to protect the rail "right-of-way", in order to ensure that the possibility of building the North/South Rail Link is maintained. In order to identify and protect this corridor, additional funds are needed for further study.

To support this effort:

Send a contact Governor Patrick telling him you want the North South Rail Link to move forward because it is the smart, convenient choice. Click here for the Governor's contact information.


As of March 2011, there is a request pending for $6M for engineering work that would enable MASSDOT to complete the Link’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS was shelved early during the Romney administration and has been gathering dust ever since. Every year for the past three years, the Patrick Administration has written a letter requesting that Congress appropriate $6M to prepare/complete this document.  The Patrick Administration, (Sec. Mullen) should be preparing and sending the same request again this year. Once the Patrick administration writes the request, it is sent to one or more Massachusetts congressmen for submission and to Senator Kerry. Ideally they will direct the request to the appropriate committee(s) in a timely fashion, and, if all goes well, the money arrives and the work is accomplished.


See Also
Massachusetts Sierra Club Transportation Network

Interactive Map
demonstrating the benefits to the system of the North South Rail Link.

Learn More

North South Rail Link Brochure

Sierra Club MBTA Map

North South Rail Link CAC Report 2002



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