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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has acquired a 21-mile segment of rail from CSX Transportation for $23 million, the agency announced yesterday.MassDOT officials considered the acquisition of the Framingham Secondary Line as a "strategic investment" that links the Framingham/Worcester, Needham, Franklin and Attleboro/Northeast Corridor commuter-rail lines. The line also is a major rail corridor for freight shipments between several key points in eastern Massachusetts, MassDOT officials said in a press release.In terms of long-term infrastructure needs, the line will add rail capacity to allow passenger service on alternative routes in cases where capital projects may disrupt normal service, they said.Purchase of the line also will guarantee that game-day passenger service to Gillette Stadium for New England Patriots games will continue, they added."Beyond the short-term value of supporting the shipment of freight, in the long term, the line has the potential to support future economic development," said MassDOT Rail and Transit Administrator Astrid Glynn. "The communities to the southwest of Boston are experiencing strong regional growth. Should that trend continue, we would look to engage the surrounding communities in a conversation about the potential for a pilot program of additional passenger rail service." The line would require upgrades to track, signals and switches before enhanced passenger service could begin. Preliminary upgrades are set to begin in spring 2016.
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