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Transportation

For a Better Economy, Add Commuter Rail?

Trains pass through Pawtucket and Central Falls, Rhode Island, without stopping. Local officials think a new station may revitalize the two old mill towns.
A dilapidated stairway leads from railroad tracks to a sealed entrance of the abandoned Pawtucket-Central Falls train station, in Central Falls, R.I.
A dilapidated stairway leads from railroad tracks to a sealed entrance of the abandoned Pawtucket-Central Falls train station, in Central Falls, R.I. AP Photo/Steven Senne

Dozens of Amtrak and commuter trains pass through the two forlorn Rhode Island mill cities of Central Falls and Pawtucket, every day without stopping.

In more prosperous times, both had direct rail service to Boston and New York. But, in 1959, the historic Beaux-Arts station on the border between the two cities closed and train service ended for good 22 years later. Now, local leaders are betting that building a new train station will help both cities latch onto economic forces that have left residents struggling with poverty, unemployment and even a municipal bankruptcy.