Delli Priscoli bought the 16 1/2 mile railroad, which stretches from Grafton to Milford, in 2008 after it had been dormant for 20 years. Delli Priscoli performed major track renovations and the portion of the railroad from Grafton to West Upton is now fully operational.
Neal said he has a deep appreciation for the rails, as he got his first job as a teen working on a Connecticut railroad, cutting ties for rail beds.
"Railroads are an important part of American history and the American economy," said Neal, D-2nd.
He said the railroad will bring jobs to the area, stimulate the economy, and help promote clean energy.
"There is a sense of optimism (here)," he said.
Calling him a "good neighbor," Upton Board of Health Chairman Al Holman said the residents are lucky to have Delli Priscoli in town.
"We've had a very good relationship with him," he said. "This is a good thing for the community."
Delli Priscoli said the Upton to Hopedale stretch of the railroad should be operational within a few months, as it is still undergoing track rehabilitation.
Though there has been a lot of interest in people wanting to rent the large warehouse on the Hopedale railyard property, nobody has signed on the dotted line just yet, Delli Priscoli said.
"It's a sign of the times," he said. "People are interested in the building but very cautious to take the final step and commit. But there are more people looking and the attitudes have been very optimistic."
The railroad is working with a wood pellet manufacturer in the Upton railyard, said Delli Priscoli, which has brought numerous jobs to the area.
"It's three or four people working three shifts a day, and there are weekend shifts," he said. "These are net new jobs. And wood pellets burn carbon-free."
Even transporting the pellets via rail is more environmentally friendly than by truck, said Delli Priscoli, when it comes to carbon emissions.
Neal and Delli Priscoli also stopped in Hopedale, where they met Town Coordinator Gene Phillips.
"We work closely with Jon because we see this as jobs coming into town if we can get it up and running," Phillips said.
The stretch of tracks from Hopedale to Milford will take much more time to finish, Delli Priscoli said.
Delli Priscoli said he invited Neal to tour the railroad in part to see if he could help remove any roadblocks to approval of the road crossings the railroad needs to redo as the track renovations move into Milford.
As soon as the whole railroad rehabilitation is finished, Delli Priscoli anticipates one or two trains going by once a day. The trains travel at about 10 mph.