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South Coast Rail will extend commuter rail services to Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford.

Residents of New Bedford and Fall River have voted to join the MBTA, overcoming one of the last hurdles to South Coast Rail services due to start next year. Lane Turner / Boston Globe

Voters in New Bedford and Fall River overwhelmingly chose to join the MBTA, overcoming one of the last hurdles to Boston’s South Coast commuter rail service.

The South Coast Railway will extend commuter rail services to Taunton, Fall River and New Bedford over the existing Middleborough / Lakeville line. These three communities are the only major cities within 50 miles of Boston that do not currently have access to the commuter train to Boston, according to MBTA.

The project has been under discussion for over 30 years.

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    A contract worth USD 159 million has been awarded for 2 new South Coast Rail suburban railway stations and other works

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The first phase started in 2019 with construction wrapping is expected and service is slated to start in late 2023. Ultimately, MBTA also plans to extend the Stoughton commuter rail service to connect more communities with the New Bedford and Fall River lines.

Under state lawHowever, any city or town wishing to use the MBTA service must obtain voter approval by January 1 of the year in which the service is to start. In New Bedford, 80.43% voters were in favor, compared to 78% in the autumn river.

While some New Bedford residents feared the railroad would speed up gentrification, others said they voted to join the MBTA so they could get to Boston more easily, according to The new light of Bedford.

“For over 30 years, our community has missed the railroad to Boston,” said State Representative Carole Fiola, whose neighborhood includes parts of Fall River and Freetown. Herald’s Messages. “We’ll have it eventually. I think the audience always wanted it and they showed it last night.

According to Jean Fox, director of Community Engagement for South Coast Rail, from 1845 to 1893, the Old Colony Railroad had solid services across the region, with New York, New Haven, and the Hartford Railroad leased and operated until 1958.

Both railroads went bankrupt and Massachusetts subsidized rail services for a short time, Fox explained in an article video update. But as services declined and highway construction flourished, passenger service on the Old Colony Line was abandoned in 1959, with the exception of the main line between Boston and Providence, she said.

Currently, Phase 1 of the South Coast Rail is fully funded and construction is nearing completion.

“The trains will once again take passengers to the South Coast, a region of great natural beauty with a seaside, bustling fish industry, cranberry bogs and a role in the history and future of our community,” said Fox. “We can not wait”.

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