The Franklin Line's Norwood Central Station
|Type||Commuter rail line|
|System||Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority|
|Termini||Boston South Station
|Character||Elevated and surface-level|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Franklin Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail runs from Boston's South Station in a southwesterly direction toward Franklin, Massachusetts. Most Franklin Line trains connect to the Providence/Stoughton Line at Readville though some weekday trains use the Fairmount Line to access South Station. Most weekday trains do not stop at Hyde Park or Plimptonville with no trains stopping at these stations on weekends. A few weekday trains originate and terminate at Norwood Central. Trains only serve Foxboro from Boston during special events at Gillette Stadium.
The earliest predecessor to the Franklin Line began in 1835 when the Boston and Providence Railroad built a branch from Dedham to Readville, connecting with the main line from Boston to Providence. This was followed, in 1848, by the Norfolk County Railroad, which ran from Dedham to Walpole. After various mergers and acquisitions the line become part of the New York and New England Railroad until 1898, the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad until 1968, and ultimately the Penn Central until its bankruptcy. Between 1973 and 1976, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts bought almost all track assets in Southeastern Massachusetts, including the Franklin Line, from the Penn Central's bankruptcy trustees.
From the start of MBTA operations, Franklin/Dean College was the terminus of the line. Service was extended to Forge Park/495 Station on June 2, 1988, although the line retained its original name. Forge Park/495 is not on the former NY&NE main line to Woonsocket, but instead on the former Milford & Woonsocket Railroad, which last saw service in 1938.
In September 2010, the MBTA completed a study to determine the feasibility of extending regular commuter rail service to Foxboro via the Franklin Line. The study looked at extending some Fairmount Line service to Foxboro, running shuttle trains from Foxboro to Walpole, or a combination of both. No determination has been made as to if or when this service would begin.
In July 2011, the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization began studying the viability of extending Franklin Line commuter rail service to Hopedale and Milford. The study would update a 1997 MBTA evaluation that concluded costs outweighed the benefits of a possible expansion. Local officials believe increased population and track upgrades to the Grafton and Upton Railroad may increase the viability of an extension. 8 miles of track from Franklin Junction to Milford were leased by the MBTA from Conrail for the extension and to establish the possibility of future service to Milford. A 2004 analysis determined that the extension would cost $70.5 million and attract about 1,800 additional riders per weekday.
|Miles||City||Station||Fare zone||Opening date||Connections and notes|
|0.0||Boston||South Station||1A||1899||Red Line and all south side Commuter Rail lines
Amtrak Acela Express, Lake Shore Limited, and Northeast Regional
|1.2||Back Bay||1A||1899||Orange Line
splits from Framingham/Worcester Line
|2.2||Ruggles||1A||May 4, 1987||MBTA Orange Line|
|8.4||Hyde Park||1||circa 1850||temporarily closed November 2, 1979 - May 4, 1987|
|9.2||Readville||2||1834||Fairmount Line connects; splits from Providence/Stoughton Line|
|11.8||Dedham Corporate Center||2||January 15, 1990|
- "Dedham Historical Society". Dedham Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
- Howe, Peter J. (1988-06-02). "FRANKLIN MBTA OPENS NEW STATION SERVICE SLATED TO BEGIN TODAY; 700 PARKING SPACES PLANNED". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
- Belcher, Jonathan (12 November 2012). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- Karr, Ronald Dale (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Branch Line Press. pp. 304–306. ISBN 0942147022.
- "Foxborough Commuter Rail Feasibility Analysis". MBTA. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
- "Franklin rail line could expand to Milford and Hopedale". Milford Daily News. Retrieved 2011-08-14.
- Central Transportation Planning Staff (May 2003 (revised January 2004)). "Chapter 5C: Service Expansion". 2004 Program for Mass Transportation. Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
- "Ridership and Service Statistics". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2010. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
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