Gillette Stadium Exteriors

Gillette Stadiium in Foxboro. (Staff file photo by Mark Stockwell)

FOXBORO — The state wants to conduct an 11-month pilot program for providing weekday commuter rail service to Gillette Stadium beginning in late 2018.

The trial would involve four round-trip trains between Boston and the train stop at the parking lot at the stadium. Gillette would provide 500 parking spaces and charge a parking fee.

The state Department of Transportation intends to present its plan to selectmen in Foxboro and neighboring Walpole in about two weeks, then bring the matter to the transportation department board of directors and the MBTA fiscal control board.

The pilot program would determine if there is sufficient commuter interest to sustain permanent service, in addition to the service already provided on other rail lines to nearby Mansfield, Sharon Norfolk and Attleboro.

The trial would also study the economic and community impacts of train service.

Benchmarks would be created that the service would have to meet, according to the agency.

The move is an outgrowth of a memo of understanding reached last year between the state and Foxboro Realty Associates, a division of the businesses of the Kraft Group, which own the New England Patriots, Patriot Place and the stadium.

The original agreement called for permanent service, but the state is changing that to a pilot program.

The company would pay $200,000 toward operating the trains, which would travel to the stadium along an existing freight line.

There is already commuter rail service for Patriot games, but weekday service would give customers more access to the shopping and dining at Patriot Place, while providing commuter transportation to those who work in Boston.

The Krafts have talked about building housing near the site.

State Rep. Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield, said the pilot program will determine if the service should be extended, but he knows how frustrating driving to Boston is and how hard it is to find parking at the Mansfield train station.

“My hope is we will reduce traffic, meet the needs of the commuter with reliable service and everyone wins — riders, the environment, the MBTA and the taxpayer. In addition, perhaps it will give the Route 1 corridor a better connection to enhance development of the business corridor,” he said.

At a meeting earlier this week, Foxboro Town Manager Bill Keegan and selectmen Chairman David Feldman spoke positively about the program, but Selectwoman Ginny Coppola and Selectman Jim DeVellis expressed concerns.

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