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When a state legislative panel included funding for the South Coast Rail project in a multiyear transportation bill recently, it was the latest in a series of hopeful signs for the plan that supporters have been pushing for two decades.
But for all its recent momentum, the bid to return passenger rail to Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton still faces some daunting challenges, perhaps chief among them the ticking of the clock.
With Governor Deval Patrick heading into the final year of his tenure, the project is losing a champion.
Supporters acknowledge that whether the rail line gets built will depend in large part on whether Patrick’s successor embraces the plan the way he has.