FRAMINGHAM/ WORCESTER LINE
Front facade of Worcester Union Station
|Type||Commuter rail line|
|System||Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority|
|Termini||Boston South Station
Worcester Union Station
|Daily ridership||17,382 (2009 daily average)|
|Opening||1834 as the Boston and Worcester Railroad|
|Owner||Massachusetts Turnpike Authority
Newton-Back Bay, MBTA elsewhere
|Line length||44.2 miles|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Framingham/Worcester Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail system runs west from Boston, Massachusetts to Worcester, Massachusetts through the MetroWest region, serving 17 station stops in Boston, Newton, Wellesley, Natick, Framingham, Ashland, Southborough, Westborough, Grafton, and Worcester. The third-longest and third-busiest line on the system, the Framingham/Worcester Line is plagued by poor track conditions, interference from freight trains, and a number of non-handicapped-accessible stations. Service on the long is a mix of local and express trains serving Worcester plus short-turn Framingham locals.
The Framingham/Worcester Line was one of the first commuter rail lines, with daily commuter-oriented service to West Newton beginning in 1834. Originally the Boston and Worcester Railroad, service has been operated by the Boston and Albany Railroad, New York Central, Penn Central, and since 1964 by Boston and Maine Railroad, Amtrak, and finally MBCR under contract to the MBTA. In 1975 the line was cut back to Framingham, but service returned to Worcester in 1994 with four infill stations added between 2000 and 2002.
After purchasing the Framingham-Worcester trackage from CSX in 2012, the MBTA has begun adding service to the outer section of the line, including a rush-hour limited express stopping only at Framingham on the trip between Worcester and Boston. A new station, Boston Landing, is planned to open as early as 2014.
Originally built in 1834 as the Boston and Worcester Railroad, the line was later part of the Boston and Albany Railroad and New York Central Railroad systems. The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority acquired the tracks from Newton to Back Bay Station in order to construct the Boston Extension of the Massachusetts Turnpike from the Route 128 circumferential highway to the then-elevated Central Artery in downtown Boston. Construction ran from 1962 to 1964, and reduced the railway to two tracks.
The New York Central was merged into Penn Central Transportation in 1968, which went bankrupt in 1970. Amtrak was created in 1971 to run intercity rail service; since 1975, it has operated the Lake Shore Limited on the Boston-to-Albany tracks.
On January 27, 1973 the MBTA acquired the remainder of the tracks east of Framingham, and subsidized passenger transit between Framingham and Boston. Commuter rail service between Worcester and Framingham was discontinued October 27, 1975, as the state did not subsidize it. The trackage on the western segment was inherited by Conrail in 1976, which returned to profitability in the 1980s. After a corporate breakup in 1999, CSX Transportation became the owner of the Worcester-to-Framingham segment.
In the late 1980s, the Orange Line was rerouted into parallel tracks sharing the Framingham Line's right of way between Back Bay Station and the portal to the Washington Street Tunnel.
MBTA commuter rail service expanded to Worcester on September 26, 1994 with limited rush-hour-only service. Off-peak service was added beginning on December 14, 1996. Worcester Union Station underwent a major renovation in 2000, and in 2006 the city's main bus terminal was co-located at the train station. Infill stations at Ashland, Southborough, Westborough, and Grafton were added in 2000 and 2002.
In January 2008, the Framingham/Worcester Line became the first in the MBTA system to offer wi-fi service aboard the trains. The service was expanded system-wide after a test period, but the Worcester Line was chosen for the pilot phase in part to compensate for low on-time performance.
Ownership and passenger service performance problems
The line was the first or second worst in the MBTA system for several years. In October 2007, only 48.4% of trains ran on time (no more than 1 minute early or 5 minutes late), improving to 69.3% in January 2008 after CSX and MBCR officials began meeting daily.
CSX dispatched (controls signals) on the line from Selkirk, New York. Conflicts with freight trains, track work, and an increase of passenger load of about 40% since opening were all been blamed for affecting on-time performance. New federal speed regulations that went into effect in 2005 were also cited for slow service. On February 18, 2008, a new schedule went into effect, intended to more accurately reflect the run time on the line. By August 2009, actual on-time performance was at 82%.
In September 2009, after several years of negotiations, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts completed an agreement to purchase the tracks from Framingham to Worcester, with the actual transfer originally expected in 2011. Earlier phases of the agreement had allowed the addition of five weekday trains to Worcester.
By early 2013, Beacon Park was largely vacated except for the locomotive maintenance facility, leaving only occasional freight service east of Framingham. MBCR took over dispatching of the line from CSX in August 2013, meaning that passenger trains are now given full priority over freight trains. The dispatching changeover brings other benefits for passenger service: MBCR has greater flexibility to deal with minor emergencies affecting operations, to communicate directly with train crews, and to dispatch extra trains to cover for a late or stalled train. Blanket heat-related speed restrictions will no longer be imposed, limiting delays even on hotter summer days.
In June 2012, New Balance announced plans to build a new station stop at their new development in Allston-Brighton. In November 2012, they announced plans to open the stop, Boston Landing, in 2014.
In July 2012, the MBTA announced plans to add additional service on the line as CSX moves freight transload operations from Beacon Park Yard in Allston to a new yard in East Worcester that does not interfere with passenger operations. Three additional weekday Boston-Worcester round trips were added on October 29, 2012 after the October 4 signing of the deed that transferred ownership of the Framingham-Worcester section to the MBTA. A rush-hour express serving Worcester was added on April 29, 2013. The ultimate goal was originally for 20 Worcester round trips by October 2013, up from 12.5 round trips before the service increases; however this was pushed back by delays in the rebuilding of Yawkey station and the delivery of the new MPI HSP46 locomotives and bilevel passenger cars. After a series of public comment hearings in 2013 to determine schedules, the increase to 20 round trips will take place in late December 2013 or early January 2013.
The MBTA is also planning improvements to speed travel times on the line, including the possibility of adding a second main track through Beacon Park Yard - the only single-track section of the line. The former second track through the yard was turned into a yard lead with no through service in the 1950s. In November 2013, MassDOT announced plans to spend $15 million through 2014 and 2015 to improve travel times on the line.
This listing shows only those stations which have seen service since the MBTA was formed in 1964. For previously closed stations, see the full list of Boston & Albany Railroad stations.
|Miles||City||Station||Opening date||Connections and notes|
|0.0||Boston||South Station||1899||Red Line and all south side Commuter Rail lines
Amtrak Acela Express, Lake Shore Limited, and Northeast Regional
replaced older terminal
|1.2||Back Bay||1899||originally Trinity Place
splits from Attleboro/Stoughton Line/Franklin Line/Needham Line
Amtrak Acela Express, Lake Shore Limited, and Northeast Regional
|2.5||Yawkey||April 29, 1988||Only operated during games at Fenway Park until January 2, 2001, when it opened to daily commuter traffic.
Currently being rebuilt with full-length high-level platforms and accessible street-level connections
Former Brookline Junction with Highland Branch
|3.5||Beacon Park Yard||Not a station.
Connection with Grand Junction Branch
|4.7||Boston Landing||Planned to open in 2014|
|8.1||Newton||Newtonville||MBTA Bus: 59, 553, 554, 556|
|9.1||West Newton||MBTA Bus: 553, 554|
|10.2||Auburndale||MBTA Bus: 505, 558|
|10.9||Riverside||closed October 27, 1977; separate from Green Line station
split with Highland Branch and abandoned Newton Lower Falls Branch
|12.5||Wellesley||Wellesley Farms||Originally Rice's Crossing|
|14.7||Wellesley Square||originally Wellesley|
|17.7||Natick||Natick||Former junction with abandoned Saxonville Branch|
|19.9||West Natick||August 23, 1982|
|21.4||Framingham||Framingham||Amtrak Lake Shore Limited
junction with Milford Branch and Boston, Clinton, Fitchburg and New Bedford Railroad (NYNH&H, includes original Framingham Branch)
|25.2||Ashland||Ashland||August 24, 2002||Former junction with abandoned Hopkinton Railway (NYNH&H)|
|27.4||Southborough||Southborough||June 22, 2002||originally Cordaville|
|34.0||Westborough||Westborough||June 22, 2002|
|36.4||Grafton||Grafton||February 23, 2000||originally North Grafton
junction with Grafton and Upton Railroad
|44.2||Worcester||Worcester||Amtrak Lake Shore Limited
replaced older terminal
temporarily closed October 26, 1975, reopened September 26, 1994
junction with Providence and Worcester Railroad (NYNH&H), Norwich and Worcester Railroad (NYNH&H), Worcester, Nashua and Rochester Railroad (B&M) and Boston, Barre and Gardner Railroad (B&M)
- "Ridership and Service Statistics". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2010. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
- Transportation System Performance-Commuter Rail
- Belcher, Jonathan (31 August 2012). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- MBTA > Riding the T > Wi-Fi Commuter Rail Connect
- Worcester Telegram & Gazette News
- Worcester Magazine - Sidetracked
- Bierman, Noah (February 13, 2008). "T tweaks a train schedule to reflect reality". The Boston Globe.
- "Lt. Governor: Historic CSX Rail Agreement". Commonwealth Conversations: Transportation. Massachusetts Department of Transportation. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
- Town, Your (September 23, 2009). "CSX finalizes agreement to expand rail service west, south of Boston". The Boston Globe.
- Jessen, Klark (7 August 2013). "State Takes “Absolute Control” over Worcester to Boston Line". Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- Rocheleau, Matt (9 November 2012). "New Balance aims to open commuter rail station in 2014". Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- Rocheleau, Matt (31 July 2012). "T plans to boost commuter rail trips between Boston, Worcester this fall". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- Monahan, John J. (4 October 2012). "At CSX freight yard, Murray touts increased train service". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- "Worcester Line Schedule". Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- "LT GOV MURRAY ANNOUNCES NEW SCHEDULE FOR INCREASED COMMUTER RAIL SERVICE". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- Monahan, John J. (14 November 2013). "State plans to expand commuter trains for Worcester". Worcester Telegram. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- "Allston Multimodal Station Study". Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation. 15 June 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
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