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Work Begins on Boston Regional Rail Expansion Project

(Courtesy MBTA)

Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

Groundbreaking Launches Project to Expand Regional Rail Service in Southeastern Massachusetts

A long-planned project to revive passenger rail service in much of Southeastern Massachusetts finally got underway with a ceremonial groundbreaking July 2.

The groundbreaking in East Freetown, Railway Gazette International reports, marked the start of construction on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s South Coast Rail project.

The $1.047 billion project will upgrade three rail lines that extend or branch off the MBTA’s existing Middleborough Line: an 11-km (6.84-mile) section of the Middleborough Secondary between PIlgrim Junction and Cotley Junction, a 28-km (17.4-mile) stretch of the New Bedford Main Line and 19 km (11.81 miles) of the Fall River line. Two new passing sidings and six stations will be built as part of the project.

The South Coast Rail project will bring MBTA commuter trains into Taunton, New Bedford and Fall River for the first time. The state has fully funded the project in its 2020-24 capital budget. The first trains should roll down the tracks in 2023.

Electric Double-Decker Buses Make Their Debut in London

The iconic red double-decker London bus now comes in an environmentally friendly version. The breakthrough comes with the delivery of the first five of 37 electric buses to London bus operator Metroline on July 2.

Mass Transit reports that the buses were placed in service on Metroline’s Route 43, a nine-mile route that runs between London Bridge and Friern Barnet. The BYD ADL Enviro400EV buses are the bigger siblings of the partnership’s Enviro200EV single-deckers, which have been operating in London since 2015. The wheelchair-accessible buses can carry 67 seated passengers and can run for 160 miles before their batteries require recharging. (That would be a little more than nine round trips on Route 43.)

“London’s red double-decker bus is a true symbol of the city and an iconic vehicle known around the world,” said Isbrand Ho, BYD Europe managing director. “The BYD ADL Enviro400EV retains the soul of the London double-decker bus, brought up-to-date by embracing 21st-century technology; technology that is 100 percent emission-free and operationally ultra-efficient – good news for Metroline and good news for the people of London.”

BYD ADL is a partnership between Chinese electric-vehicle manufacturer BYD and Alexander Dennis Ltd., the United Kingdom’s largest bus manufacturer. The buses are being built at an ADL facility in Scarborough, Yorkshire, using power and drivetrain components produced at a BYD plant in Hungary.

Hamburg Transit Planners Choose S-Bahn for Rail Service Expansion

The International Railway Journal reports that a joint study of options for extending rail service to two western suburbs of Hamburg has chosen the cheaper option as its preference.

German Rail (DB) and Hamburg metro operator Hamburger Hochbahn had conducted the study, which examined the pros and cons of either extending Hamburg U-bahn line U5 to Lurup and Osdorf or building a new S-Bahn line to serve the districts. While the U-Bahn extension had higher projected ridership, both cost and urban planning considerations led the study to recommend the new S-Bahn line instead.

The line, to be designated S32, will branch off an existing S-Bahn line at Holstenstrasse in the city center and run to Osdorfer Born west of the city. It will include six new stations, four of them in areas with no other rail rapid transit service nearby. However, the study did also recommend extending Line U5 west to Altona Volkspark.

Know of a project that should be included in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.

Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.

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Tags: public transportationbostonbuseslondonhamburg