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February 25, 2013

Bill seeks to limit train idling in Plaistow

The future of commuter rail in Plaistow is uncertain, but local lawmakers are trying their best to derail any potential problems coming down the track.

Legislation has been proposed by Rep. Norman Major, R-Plaistow, to limit the idling of commuter rail trains in New Hampshire to just 30 minutes. There is currently no limit.

The bill was proposed in case the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority extends its rail line through Plaistow.

“It gives the communities an opportunity to regulate the locomotives,” Major said.

Plaistow Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said the bill is necessary if commuter rail were to come to Plaistow. The MBTA line ends in neighboring Haverhill.

“This is just one of the things that must happen if we are going to seriously go forward with the feasibility of commuter rail in Plaistow,” he said.

Town officials have been looking to bring commuter rail into Plaistow for years, saying it would provide an economic boost. But there have been many concerns about potential air and noise pollution.

“We are going to continue to evaluate how we can support clean air and ensure the best possible mitigation for any of the impacts associated with a project of this magnitude,” Fitzgerald said.

Major and bill co-sponsors Rep. William Friel, R-Atkinson, and Rep. Debra DeSimone, R-Atkinson, presented the proposal to the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee on Tuesday.

The state representatives worked with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to push the bill.

“We are always in favor of implementing programs which reduce emissions,” said Rebecca Ohler, the department’s transportation and energy programs manager.

Ohler said there are few reasons why a train should be left with its engine running.

“You can do electric shore power and auxiliary power units, which serve the same function,” she said. “There can be some idling for maintenance reasons, idling can be eliminated through current technology.”

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