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Massachusetts Senate leader Spilka shows support for East-West rail

Massachusetts State Senate President Karen Spilka and State Sen. Jake Oliveira, D-Ludlow, speak to the media on March 13, 2023 in Palmer, Massachusetts.
Alden Bourne
Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka and State Sen. Jake Oliveira, D-Ludlow, speak to the media on March 13, 2023 in Palmer, Massachusetts.

The leader of the Massachusetts Senate spoke in support of new rail service connecting Boston with the western part of the state.

East-West rail seems to be an idea no longer just being championed by lawmakers from western Massachusetts.

Last week, at an event in Springfield, Gov. Maura Healey noted her proposed budget would help East-West rail come to fruition.

And at an event in Palmer, Massachusetts on Monday, Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, made it clear she's also in favor of the proposed commuter rail.

"An East-West, West-East rail would open up the doors, be a shot in the arm not only for western Mass., I believe, but the central and eastern part of Massachusetts in bringing workers in," she said. "We have a worker shortage in everything, everywhere. This would really help."

Spilka joined state Sen. Jake Oliveira, D-Ludlow. They spoke at a former train station. Proponents of the rail service in and around Palmer are pushing to make the town a stop on the possible service.

Spilka also expressed support for Healey's proposed 2024 budget.

"I haven't gone through line item by line item. But overall, I think that she's offered a solid budget," she said. "We will take a look at it. There will be some - many - things that we agree with and align with the governor's budget, some differences but that's a few months away."

Healey has said her budget includes a director and staff for proposed rail service between Boston and the western part of the state.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.