Category Archives: Massachusetts

High-Speed Rail Service Between Springfield, Boston Proposed

From NECN via California High Speed Rail

Some senators say a proposed high-speed rail service between Boston and Springfield could solve the skyrocketing cost of living in Boston.
Under the proposal, the line would link Boston, Worcester and Springfield, the state’s three largest cities.

Senators supporting this project believe it would help solve the out-of-control cost of living in eastern Massachusetts and help the economy in western Massachusetts that is being left behind.

This proposal is part of the 2018 budget and could make it onto the governor’s desk.


What Boston’s South Station was up in terms of number of trains in 2005

Amtrak to NY & DC 34

1st District (Needham, Franklin, Attleboro/Prov., Stoughton 132

Via 2nd Dist. incl. some Stoughton & Franklin plus Dorchester Br. Locals 49

Old Colony 56

B&A to Worc. & Fram. 41

Lake Shore Ltd. 2

Total = 314 – weekday

And it is growing too!

When the restored Greenbush Line opens at the end of next year, you can add 12 more round trips.

Worcester gets it’s 10 more round trips, as currently being negotiated.

When Fall River/New Bedford opens

Check out our Boston & New England WebSite

Yes You CAN Take A TrainTo Cape Cod!

One of the most interesting locations that railroads have been built to is Cape Cod. The road that operated to CapeCod was part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford.

The railroad era came to Cape Cod in 1848 when a road was built from Middleboro on the mainland to Sandwich on the Cape. It was built primarily to serve the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company. The Cape Cod Railroad extended itself to Hyannis in 1854 and after the Civil War the Cape Cod Central Railroad went on to Orleans and Wellfleet.

Passenger service became important by the end of the 19th Century as the Cape became a resort area.

The late 1950’s saw a sharp decline in passenger travel as automobiles became more popular (the Bourne and Sagamore bridges to Cape Cod were no where as overloaded as they are today).

Tracks from Eastham to Provincetown were removed in 1960 and then cut back to South Dennis in 1966. Much of this line is a bike path.

No, you couldn’t take a train to Cape Cod for quite a while, but see 2013 story: Cape Cod is Finally Going to Town

Find out more about railroads on Cape Cod

The Hyperloop Proposal to Connect Boston & Providence Has a Personal Mission


Imagine if you could travel from Boston to Providence in less than 20 minutes.

Considering a typical drive or train ride takes a little over an hour, the implications would be immense. It would change how people decide where to live and work. And if such transportation was affordable enough, it could have a large impact on the working class by opening up the geography of opportunities they have access to.

This is part of the grand vision of Hyperloop, the high-speed form of transportation conceived by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. But a proposal to connect Boston and Providence with Hyperloop’s electric propulsion pod travel technology is surprisingly personal and has a lot less to do with Boston and Providence than it does a small town in southern Massachusetts.

That small town is Somerset, about a 20-mile drive east from Providence, and it’s the cornerstone of the Hyperloop Boston-Providence proposal that is competing with 34 other projects across the world for a chance to get built. They were chosen out of a pool of 2,600 teams from across the world, and Hyperloop One, the company running the Global Challenge competition, is expected to announce three winning proposals by the end of the summer.

For Holly McNamara, who’s leading the Hyperloop Massachusetts project, the 64-mile proposal is about putting Somerset on the map and giving her hometown — and the surrounding area, which includes Fall River — an economic boost that it’s very much in need of. For decades, she said, Somerset hasn’t had a direct transit line to Boston. And the closure of two local power plants over the past several years have created a massive drain on jobs and tax revenue for the town. Hyperloop Massachusetts could also boost an offshore wind farm development that has been proposed off the coast of Somerset.

“We figured it would be a perfect opportunity to put the South Coast back on the map,” she said.

With the Commonwealth of Massachusetts currently working on a South Coast commuter rail plan, McNamara said the Hyperloop could serve as an important supplement. An estimated Hyperloop trip from Boston to Somerset would only take about five to 10 minutes, McNamara said, which could incentivize people to work longer distances from where they live.

“It will change our perception of time,” she said. “It will change everyone’s lifestyle.”

The Hyperloop would also be able to carry cargo, which could have major implications for logistics, as well.

After growing up in Somerset and getting a degree in civil engineering at Cornell University, McNamara moved to the West Coast and lived in California for 14 years working in various engineering jobs. Then, four years ago, she moved back to Somerset and was elected to become one of the town’s three selectmen in 2016. When she learned about Hyperloop One’s Global Challenge last year, she saw it as the perfect opportunity to improve her town and region’s economy.

The Hyperloop Massachusetts proposal has since received endorsements from several politicians, including U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, as well as state legislators and town officials from Fall River, New Bedford and Somerset

Important Dates In New York Central Railroad History From Mark Tomlonson

July 1, 1900 The New York Central & Hudson River Railroad leases the Boston & Albany for 99 years. Map featured at top, heavy freight at Pittsfield, MA below
June 23, 1831 The Boston & Worcester Railroad Corporation incorporates in Massachusetts. It is the oldest element of the New York Central system in New England.

July 1, 1870 The Kalamazoo & South Haven is leased in perpetuity to the Michigan Central.
July 4, 1870 The first train enters Bloomingdale MI on the Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad (later MC, NYC, PC, CR).
July 1, 1937 Passenger service ends on the former Kalamazoo & South Haven, now a branch in Michigan of the New York Central.
June 30, 1937 Last day of mail service on the former Kalamazoo & South Haven as the Post Office shifts the contract to motor freight.

July 1, 1935 The New York Central Lines (subsidiary companies) are re-named the New York Central System.

July 1, 1958 The New York Central withdraws from The Pullman Company and begins staffing its own passenger trains.

July 1, 1964 The New York Central opens its first “Flexi-Flo” terminal, in Indianapolis. The system uses steel pipes to transfer loads directly from covered hoppers to trucks.

July 2, 1831 First test of the “Dewitt Clinton” on the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad. Read more about the original NY Central

July 3, 1948 The New York Central issues a report that only 20 per cent of its long-distance passenger trains are diesel powered, but the number is expected to rise to 50% by year’s end.

July 4, 1871 The Detroit, Hillsdale & Indiana (later LS&MS) begins service to Saline MI.

July 4, 1878 The Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad opens between Youngstown and Beaver Falls (some sources say July 3).

June 30, 1889 The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (The Big Four) is formed from the merger of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railway, the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis & Chicago Railway and the Indianapolis & St. Louis Railway.

June 30, 1908 Last day steam trains could legally operate south of the Harlem River in New York City. Read about the Harmon Shops where electric locomotives were maintained.

June 30, 1940 Last day “archbar” freight trucks could legally operate in U.S. interchange service, and then only on empty cars returning to their home roads.

June 28, 1832 The Detroit & St. Joseph Railroad (MI) is chartered. Although little is actually constructed, the proposed route will form the basis of the Central Railroad of Michigan [later MC/NYC/PC/CR/NS] charter. The proposed route closely follows the present State of Michigan/Amtrak line from Detroit to Kalamazoo. From Kalamazoo it was planned to go west through Paw Paw to St. Joseph, a route that was never constructed.

June 27, 1859 An express train bound from Chicago wrecks between South Bend and Mishawaka on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern. The train was passing over a fill that, because a culvert had plugged, was serving as an unintended dam. The saturated earth was not able to support a train. At least five of the crew were killed. Many passengers were swept downstream and drowned, as well as being killed in the wreck. There was an estimated 150 persons on the train, but a death toll has never been determined.

June 27, 1937 First train over Michigan Central’s Michigan Avenue viaduct in Kalamazoo. Auto traffic will not run under the bridge until October.

June 27, 1960 Demolition of the Grand Central Terminal office building begins to allow construction of the Pan Am Building.


June 24, 1878 William H. Vanderbilt gains control of the Michigan Central.

June 24, 1928 The New York Central inaugurates Day Coach De Luxe No. 1 & 2 between New York and Buffalo on a 10 hour 20 minute schedule with 18 stops. It is the first luxury coach train.

June 25, 1844 The Central Railroad of Michigan reaches Albion from the east.

June 25, 1866 The Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad [later MC, NYC, PC, CR, NS, JAIL] completes its line from Jackson to Lansing via Mason.

June 25, 1902 Michigan Central and Pere Marquette Railroads open Union Station in Lansing.

June 26, 1918 The USRA contracts with the American Railway Express, making it the sole U.S. express operator on U.S. railroads.

June 23, 1954 Robert Heller & Associates present the result of their passenger train study to representatives of the Pennsylvania, New York Central and Baltimore & Ohio railroads. The study finds that passengers are leaving trains for automobiles and airplanes and the railroads are unable to price their services by cost because so many of the rates are frozen by regulations. The railroads decline to follow any of the study’s recommendations to consolidate long-distance trains. Most of the study’s recommendations will be made under Amtrak.

Thanks again Mark Tomlonson

The North South Rail Link project connecting — indeed creating — a New England Regional Rail System through Boston has been proposed as a critical infrastructure project for more than 35 years.

The North South Rail Link project connecting — indeed creating — a New England Regional Rail System through Boston has been proposed as a critical infrastructure project for more than 35 years. It has now been given a new push by a broad-ranging coalition of elected and appointed officials, business leaders, transportation advocates, and others, led by former Massachusetts Governor and presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis.

An Integrated Regional Rail NetworkFor New England

The Prospects and Promises OfA New Engand Rail Connector

Mass. GMass. Gov. Baker highlights MBTA’s progress on rehab workov. Baker highlights MBTA’s progress on rehab work

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday visited a work site in Ashland to review the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority‘s (MBTA) progress on several infrastructure upgrades.

Gov. Baker visited a work site in Ashland, Mass., to highlight the MBTA’s recent infrastructure upgrades

In Ashland and along the Framingham-Worcester commuter-rail line, the MBTA is replacing more than 26,000 rail ties through early June, which will allow the agency to lift heat-related speed restrictions. Additionally, the agency has invested more than $600 million this fiscal year for state of good repair deferred maintenance, including an $83 million winter resiliency program; systemwide station improvements; and track, signal and power upgrades.

“Since last winter, the MBTA and its new leadership have undertaken a renewed focus on the important work of reducing costs and investing in infrastructure improvements to the core system that will ultimately mean more reliable public transit for commuters,” Baker said in a press release.

As part of the winter resiliency work, more than 36,000 linear feet of heater element infrastructure have been installed to support the Red Line’s third rail heating systems. Along the Orange Line, more than 200,000 linear feet of new wiring for third rail has been installed.

MassDOT continues meetings on MBTA’s Green Line Extension

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) this week is continuing to hold public meetings on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority‘s Green Line Extension project.

Due to significant cost overruns, MassDOT in February began a re-evaluation process, which is expected to be completed and submitted to the MBTA’s fiscal and management control board next month.

MassDOT plans to revise the now $3 billion project with reduced capital and overall costs, as well as a new procurement method, department officials said in a blog post. Project elements under reconsideration include reduced station designs, redesign of a vehicle maintenance facility, reconsidering community path options, construction work hour limitation, power signals, and retaining and sound walls.

The original project consisted of two distinct branches: a mainline that would operate within existing right-of-way of the MBTA Lowell Line beginning at a relocated Lechmere Station in Cambridge and traveling north to Medford; and another branch operating within existing right-of-way of the MBTA Fitchburg Line to Union Station in Somerville.

Plans called for seven new stations and a vehicle storage and maintenance facility. Trains would operate every five to six minutes in peak periods once the extension is completed.

Canceling the entire project still remains on the table “until an affordable, feasible alternative has been identified,” MassDOT officials said. However, any decision to cancel must take into account potential legal ramifications and money already spent on the project.

Keolis gears up for tie replacement project on MBTA commuter-rail line

Keolis Commuter Services, operator of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority‘s (MBTA) commuter-rail system, this month will start trackwork on the Framingham-Worcester Line to end heat-related speed restrictions.

Crews will replace as many as 30,000 ties, Keolis officials said in a press release.

The company will perform and oversee much of the work.

The track on the Framingham-Worcester Line was built and maintained by previous railroads using different design and maintenance standards than the MBTA. When the agency took control of the line in 2012, there were insufficient records available about the original installation of the rail, according to Keolis.

Such records help engineers verify that the rail will respond to heat variations between winter and summer seasons, Keolis officials said.

To compensate for the unknowns, the MBTA has either replaced rail or de-stressed sections of rail to ensure the line’s safety. That work is continuing this spring between Worcester and Framingham, Mass., and between Newtonville and Wellesley Farms, Mass.

“Commuter rail’s performance on the Framingham-Worcester Line has improved dramatically thanks to the work we and the MBTA have already completed,” said Keolis General Manager Gerald Francis. “This next round of track work will help move trains more efficiently and finally end the speed restrictions riders have dealt with for many years.”

Boston MBTA unveils rehabbed Government Center Station

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) yesterday reopened the Government Center Station in Boston, marking the completion of a two-year reconstruction project.

The station now features a glass head house structure and elevator access from street level to the Green and Blue line trolley routes.

Additionally, the station is now compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Previously, riders could access the station only by stairways and escalators, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials said in a blog post.

Other upgrades include new escalators, LED signage, a new and expanded fare collection area, upgraded backup electrical power supply, improved interior finishes, and a new emergency exit structure on Cambridge Street.

“Crews have worked hard to keep our pledge to reopen the station in two years – a feat they were only able to accomplish by closing the entire station, rather than parts of it,” said MBTA General Manager Frank DePaola.

The project was completed on time and under budget, added Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. The reconstruction cost $82 million, radio station WBUR Boston reported.