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Executive Council Approves Plaistow Rail Study

On Wednesday the Executive Council authorized a new rail study  — one that examines whether to bring trains to Plaistow.

This study will cost far less than one approved earlier this year, for $3.9 million dollars to look at extending commuter rail from Lowell, Massachusetts to Nashua and then on up to Manchester and Concord.

Sometimes it takes a couple of decades to get the wheels in motion.

That’s how long town officials in Plaistow, along with the Rockingham Planning Commission,  have campaigned to bring commuter rail to southern New Hampshire.

This week, the Executive Council voted 5-0 to spend close to $659,000 in federal funds to evaluate locations, ridership estimates and economic and environmental impacts.

For Sean Fitzgerald, Plaistow’s town manager, that approval was a milestone moment.

"125 is a busy commercial corridor. Our ability to create jobs and transportation options to our residents will affect the quality of life that will define the near and long term for Plaistow and New Hampshire."

Fitzgerald says the goal is to extend the MBTA line in Haverhill, Massachusetts about four miles north. And the town would also need a layover station for the trains to park overnight.

"They go hand in hand. There are existing inefficiencies associated with the Haverhill line that the MBTA is looking at. You would have to have a layover station somewhere close to the Plaistow station."

That overnight layover facility has been a sore point among residents worried about the noise and diesel fumes.

And for years, its opposition created roadblocks to moving the study forward.

But Fitzgerald says the feasibility report will finally give the state some answers.