Commuter rail service has been absent in the Bay State’s eighth largest city for over a year, but transportation officials say that will change in the coming months.
A temporary platform at the Lynn commuter rail station is expected to be up and running in December, nine months ahead of schedule, the MBTA announced on Wednesday.
The development, Lynn officials and representatives say, brings much needed relief to city residents who, since last October, have been taking a bus to Revere for subway service or Swampscott to hop on the commuter rail there.
“Finally, Lynn residents will have commuter rail access back,” U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Salem, said in a statement. “While it is simply unacceptable that Lynn residents have been without a safe, reliable, and affordable public transit option for this long, today’s announcement marks a positive step in the right direction.”
Lynn station has been shuttered since Oct. 1, 2022, as the MBTA addresses deterioration issues and is in a years-long $72.5 renovation. Officials don’t expect that project – a complete rebuild of the original station – to be done until about 2030.
The temporary platform, located on Silsbee Street, three blocks from the original station, will be accessible for all riders and include emergency generators, wayfinding, and variable messaging systems, said Abdellah Chajai, CEO and general manager of Keolis Commuter Services.
Officials are still in the process of planning stops for connecting bus routes, Chajai said in a release, adding locations will be announced closer to the opening of the platform.
Initially, the T looked to close Lynn station in late July of last year but decided to halt the closure until October after the plan met a collective pushback from local leaders. T officials also anticipated the temporary platform opening not until sometime in 2024.
“Due to the station’s important role in the community and after working closely with local leaders, the MBTA expedited the construction of the temporary platform at Lynn to restore service as quickly and safely as possible,” officials wrote in a Wednesday release.
Lynn Mayor Jared Nicholson said he hopes the commuter rail will be stopping more frequently in his city and that riders will be offered an affordable fare. He always felt a sense of excitement whenever he saw the train coming into the city with a population of nearly 101,000.
“Over the last year that excitement very quickly turned into regret and frustration that that train was not going to stop in the city,” Nicholson said at a news conference Wednesday. “I am so grateful that we have been able to work with the T, that they’ve heard us to be able to step up and accelerate this so that the train will stop in Lynn again, as it should.”
The anticipated early opening of the platform comes after T officials in late September made a pilot commuter rail program between Foxboro and Boston’s South Station permanent.
Not all things are positive, as passenger service on a commuter rail expansion to southern Massachusetts is not expected to begin until next summer, about half a year later than prior forecasts, officials said late last month.
“The MBTA continues to overcome years of disinvestment,” MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng said in Lynn, “but we are committed to restoring service here as quickly as possible, and using examples of this as building blocks for showing how we can expedite projects in the future.”