The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in the US has started the construction of the South Coast Rail project.

Construction works began with a ground-breaking ceremony attended by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack and MBTA general manager Steve Poftak and other officials.

The project will be delivered in phases, with Phase I South Coast Rail work currently underway.

The South Coast Rail project will provide railway connectivity between Boston and southeastern Massachusetts.

Governor Baker said: “South Coast Rail Phase 1 will connect Taunton, Fall River, New Bedford and the surrounding areas to Boston, giving people more options to get to and from southeastern Massachusetts.

“We are proud to advance South Coast Rail further than it’s ever been as part of our administration’s $8bn MBTA infrastructure investment plan over the next five years.”

Phase I works involve utilising the Middleborough Secondary line to connect South Coast passengers with services on the existing Middleborough/Lakeville commuter rail line.

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Works also include rehabilitating 17.3 miles of track on the New Bedford Main Line and 11.7 miles on the Fall River Secondary line, as well as overhauling 7.1 miles of Middleborough Secondary track from Pilgrim Junction to Cotley Junction.

The South Coast Rail Phase 1 is expected to begin operations in 2023.

In April, MassDOT and the MBTA completed the finance plan for the project and secured the final federal permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to advance with the project.

Phase I of the project will be completely funded by the state and is estimated to cost around $1.047bn.