WNE Poll: Massachusetts residents want east-west rail link

74% statewide back idea, with 87% of western Massachusetts residents on-board

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A strong majority of Massachusetts residents are “on-board” with an idea to establish high-speed rail service between Springfield and Boston, a new poll from Western New England University has found.

The survey of 468 adults found that 74% statewide back an improved east-west rail link, with an overwhelming 87% of western Massachusetts residents supporting the idea. It was here in western Massachusetts where knowledge of the proposal was the highest. Support was strong, however, throughout the state, including in central Massachusetts, in Greater Boston, and on the North and South Shores.

A majority of western Massachusetts residents also said they would be likely to use the high-speed rail link to travel across the state, with 65% saying they would at least be somewhat likely to do so. A majority, 52% of central Massachusetts residents said they would do so, but a minority of Boston area residents- 45% said that they would- and even fewer residents of the North and South Shores- 33%- said they would.

Currently, the issue is just an idea. Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) is proposing a study that would look into the feasibility of such a project. Tim Vercelloti, director of Western New England University’s Polling Institute, says that opinions on the project could change once such a study is completed.

“If that study is funded and completed, and if discussion shifts to specific costs or benefits, opinions may change. Whether that change is in a positive or negative direction could depend on the results of a study,” Vercelloti said.

Proponents of the high-speed rail link cited a desire to reduce traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike, reduce the number of cars on the road, and improve the economy of western Massachusetts. Opponents cited costs, and questioned whether there was enough demand for such a rail link.

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