NH Senate Transportation Committee Strips Funding for Analysis of Passenger Rail Expansion Project

More than 110 NH businesses and 74 percent of residents support expanding passenger rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester

Manchester, NH – Despite wide, bipartisan support across the state, from the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Governor Chris Sununu, the New Hampshire Senate Transportation Committee voted yesterday to remove federal funding for a detailed analysis of passenger rail expansion and bus service from Boston to Manchester from House Bill 2018.  

House Bill 2018 is the amended Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan, which included $4 million in federal funding for the Project Development phase of the proposed rail expansion project. This step would provide a detailed analysis of engineering, environmental, and geotechnical aspects, along with a firm financial plan for expanding passenger rail from Boston to Manchester. Should the state undertake the analysis, it would be under no commitment to move forward with the build-out of rail nor obligated to any future costs.

“This vote is deeply disappointing and it sends a negative message to businesses who are desperate to attract talented workers to fill thousands of high-paying jobs and young professionals the state seeks to recruit and retain,” said E.J. Powers, spokesman for NH Business for Rail Expansion. “This analysis, which would be funded by a federal grant at zero cost to New Hampshire taxpayers, would provide a blueprint for moving forward with rail. The analysis could also be used as a tool to attract private industry participation in the project, helping to defray the overall investment.”

In August, Governor Sununu and the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation (GACIT), which is comprised of the members of the New Hampshire Executive Council, included the $4 million in federal funding for Project Development in the state’s Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan (House Bill 2018). In March, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to keep the funding in House Bill 2018.

The Project Development analysis would examine multiple aspects of the proposed Capitol Corridor Rail Expansion Project, which would extend passenger rail from Boston, Mass. to Manchester, NH with two stops in Nashua, a stop at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and a stop in downtown Manchester.

“Despite the Senate Transportation Committee’s vote, our 110-plus statewide, nonpartisan businesses remain undeterred,” continued Powers. “We are hopeful the Senate will decide to defeat this amendment, which continues to have overwhelming business and public support.”

NH Business for Rail Expansion, a statewide, nonpartisan business coalition that launched in January, consists of more than 110 businesses from across the state. In addition to business support, more than 300 individuals have signed a petition in support of rail expansion.

The NH Capitol Corridor Study, which was released in 2015, detailed the benefits of rail expansion. The expansion of rail to New Hampshire would welcome 668,000 weekday riders and deliver the following economic benefits:

  • 5,600 permanent jobs
  • 3,400 construction jobs to build the real estate development triggered by rail
  • 1,700 new jobs every year beginning in 2030
  • 3,600 residential units to support new workers
  • 9 million square feet of commercial real estate as a by-product of rail expansion
  • $750 million in real estate investment from 2021-2030
  • $220 million in reinvested worker earnings.

A 2015 Public Policy Poll indicated 74-percent of New Hampshire residents support passenger rail expansion.

For more information and to sign the petition, please visit www.NHBiz4Rail.com.   

How you can help

Please contact your state senator and encourage them to support federal funding for an analysis of passenger rail expansion from Boston to Nashua and Manchester. Timing is of the essence – as a vote will take place next week.