As New Bedford prepares to welcome the arrival of daily commuter rail service from Boston this fall, questions remain about whether it can be successful given that most of us have become accustomed to driving ourselves these days, and whether enough people are willing to spend upwards of 90 minutes each way to commute between here and there.

I suppose we are about to find out.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell recently told me that the restored rail service should not be viewed as a commuter rail service since, in his opinion, the number of folks who will use it for that purpose will likely be low.

Mitchell said train service between New Bedford and Boston will most likely be for occasional day trippers.

New Bedford-Boston Passenger Train Service Ended In 1958
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

For decades. SouthCoast politicians have demanded a rail link to Boston, declaring it a matter of "economic justice." With New Bedford gradually establishing itself as a regional hub with less dependence on Boston, some wonder if the need for the rail project is somehow less than before.

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Commuter rail service between New Bedford and Boston was first established in 1885 by Old Colony Railroad.

Old Colony Railroad, which operated from 1845 until 1893, covered Southeastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island. Old Colony ran trains from Boston to Plymouth, Fall River, New Bedford, Newport, Providence, Fitchburg, Lowell and Cape Cod.

The company also operated steamboat and ferry lines, including the Fall River Line.

New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad acquired the Old Colony Railroad in 1893. The Old Colony division discontinued passenger service by 1959, except for the main line between Boston and Providence.

All passenger service between New Bedford and Boston ended on September 5, 1958.

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