McGovern Joins Markey and Warren to Introduce “BRAIN TRAIN” Act

Lawmakers’ legislation will help fund East-West Rail, South Coast Rail, the North-South Rail Link, and more

Bill Would Significantly Expand Intercity Passenger Rail Across Massachusetts, New England, and the Country
WORCESTER – Today, Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-02), alongside Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), announced the reintroduction of the Building Rail Across Intercity Networks To Ride Around Interior of the Nation (BRAIN TRAIN) Act. This legislation authorizes $5 billion annually, for a total of $25 billion over five years, to invest in high-performance passenger rail projects that offer service to unconnected and under-connected communities across the country – such as those in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Passenger rail is an essential and popular alternative to highways or air travel. Studies consistently show that expanding passenger rail service will improve mobility, enhance safety, promote economic development, generate new jobs, and protect the environment. Yet despite these benefits, Congress has not dedicated the resources required to build a passenger rail network worthy of the 21st century.

“We have a once-in-a-generation chance to cut through the gridlock in Washington and build a more thoughtful, accessible, and inclusive transportation network that empowers communities and passengers throughout Central and Western Massachusetts to have a say in shaping the future of this country,” said Chairman McGovern. “President Biden got it right when he announced the American Jobs Plan: he said we need to go big, we need to go bold, and we need to get it done so we can have an economy that gives everybody a chance to succeed. I’m proud to partner with Senators Markey and Warren to reintroduce this vital bill so we can ensure that as we work out the details of this infrastructure package, we build back not only better, but we build back in a way that ensures economic growth and opportunity is spread equitably throughout the Commonwealth.”

“Passenger rail is an essential ingredient for a healthy economy, a healthy environment, and a healthy workforce,” said Senator Markey. “That’s why President Biden’s American Jobs Plan rightfully calls for a massive expansion of rail across the United States. As we now flesh out the details and put together a comprehensive infrastructure package, we must ensure that we are building a passenger rail system that works for not just the megacities, but also for our Gateway Cities and the smaller communities too often left behind by the modern economy. We are reintroducing the BRAIN TRAIN Act to provide the focus and funding that will ensure every part of our Commonwealth is connected to the larger national rail network Congress is poised to create.”

“I’m glad to join Senator Markey and Congressman McGovern in reintroducing the BRAIN TRAIN Act which would help fund critical infrastructure projects here in Massachusetts and across the country,” said Senator Warren. “By expanding transportation to smaller communities, we can provide residents with more access to public transit, connect people to jobs, and spur economic activity across the entire Commonwealth.”

A copy of the BRAIN TRAIN Act can be found HERE.

The BRAIN TRAIN Act will specifically:

  • Authorize the Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement a competitive grant program and award up to $5 billion annually to fund high-performance rail projects.
  • Instruct the DOT to evaluate applications for funding based on:
    • The anticipated provision of passenger rail service in regions that are historically and persistently unconnected or under-connected;
    • The levels of estimated ridership, increased on-time performance, reduced trip time, or additional rail service frequency; and
    • The anticipated favorable impact on air or traffic congestion and safety.
  • Direct the DOT to give greater preference to rail projects that will:
    • Encourage direct connections between multiple modes of transportation;
    • Improve conventional intercity passenger, freight, or commuter rail operations;
    • Use environmentally sensitive, fuel-efficient, or electrified rail equipment;
    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
    • Improve air quality and public health;
    • Provide positive economic and employment impacts; and
    • Provide enhanced transportation options for persons with disabilities.

The BRAIN TRAIN Act is endorsed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Rail Passengers Association, Transportation for America, Transportation for Massachusetts, and the Western Massachusetts Rail Coalition (which includes the Train Campaign, Trains in the Valley, Chester Railway Station & Museum, and Citizens for a Palmer Rail Stop).

“The Western Mass Rail Coalition strongly supports Senator Markey's bill because investment in regional rail between smaller American cities and major urban centers will benefit communities like ours across the United States,” said the Western Massachusetts Rail Coalition.

“The Train Campaign’s supporters in MA, CT, and NY have been waiting for leadership from Washington,” said Karen Christensen, Founder of the Train Campaign. “The BRAIN TRAIN bill introduced by Senator Markey is just the ticket! The bill promotes interstate and regional rail and focuses on reducing climate emissions as well. This initiative will help us build a healthy, equitable, truly 21st-century rural-urban relationship.”

“Thank you to Senator Markey for re-introducing the BRAIN TRAIN Act,” said Chris Dempsey, Director of Transportation for Massachusetts. “Investments in intercity passenger rail will connect our communities to increase access to jobs and opportunity and grow regional economies. Communities in every corner of the Commonwealth deserve a robust transportation network that makes it easy to get anywhere across the state -- Boston, Worcester, Springfield, Pittsfield -- without a car. Investments in rail will lower greenhouse gas emissions, provide transportation alternatives to areas that have been underserved, and help Massachusetts build back better as we emerge from the pandemic.”

“The BRAIN TRAIN Act would create innovative new tools to let states build a modern, efficient rail system—not just for coastal megacities, but also for small towns looking to build better connections to essential services and economic opportunities for their citizens,” said Jim Mathews, President of the Rail Passengers Association. “This proposal not only invests more money in passenger rail, but offers a framework to ensure that we invest this money smartly. Our members appreciate Sen. Markey’s leadership on this issue and look forward to his measure's inclusion in a Senate infrastructure bill.”

“We're thrilled to see Senator Markey re-introduce the BRAIN TRAIN Act, a bill that can play a major role in boosting our economic recovery,” said John Robert Smith, Chairman of Transportation for America. “This legislation will transform our transportation system by expanding and restoring passenger rail service, unleashing the power of our legacy rail network. It's entirely possible to create the transportation system we need to meet our compounding crises of climate change, racial and income inequality, and economic recession, and the BRAIN TRAIN Act will be a big part of getting us there.”

“Passenger rail is a critical component of the transportation system, one we need to improve to connect our communities and address the climate crisis,” said Deron Lovaas, a senior advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “The BRAIN TRAIN Act will ensure these investments are made so we can clean the air, cut emissions and create good jobs.”