Red Line (MBTA)
An MBTA Red Line train composed of #3 Red Line stock leaving Charles/MGH station bound for Alewife, going over the Longfellow Bridge.
Ashmont or Braintree
|Daily ridership||241,603 (2010) |
|Character||Subway, Grade-separated ROW|
|Rolling stock||Type 1, Type 2, Type 3 Red Line|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Red Line is a rapid transit line operated by the MBTA running roughly north-south through Boston, Massachusetts into neighboring communities. The line begins at Alewife station in Cambridge, Massachusetts, west of Boston, near the intersection of Alewife Brook Parkway and Route 2. It passes through downtown Boston, with transfers to the Green Line at Park Street, the Orange Line at Downtown Crossing, and the Silver Line at South Station. South of downtown, it splits at JFK/UMass, with branches to Braintree and Ashmont, with the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line connecting to Mattapan.
Approximate travel times to or from Park Street are: northbound to Harvard, 11 minutes; Alewife, 20 minutes; southbound to JFK/UMass, 8 minutes; Ashmont, 17 minutes; Braintree, 28 minutes. The Red Line stations northward of Kendall remain among the longest stretch of MBTA subway without below-ground mobile phone connectivity despite a promise to complete this by the end of 2012.
Cambridge Tunnel 
The Red Line was the last of the four original Boston subway lines (Green, Orange, Blue) to begin construction. The section from Harvard and Eliot Yard to Park Street and the Tremont Street Subway opened on March 23, 1912. At Harvard, a prepayment station was provided for easy transfer to streetcar routes operating in a separate tunnel (now the Harvard Bus Tunnel). Opening of the line required construction of the Cambridge Tunnel beneath Massachusetts Avenue and Main Street from Harvard onto the (now historic) Longfellow Bridge. The line occupied a previously constructed rail right-of-way in the center of the bridge. On the Boston side, the line briefly transformed into an elevated railway, rising over Charles Circle and into a tunnel through Beacon Hill to Park Street.
Dorchester Tunnel and Extension 
The Dorchester Tunnel to Washington Street and South Station Under opened on April 4, 1915 and December 3, 1916, with transfers to the Washington Street Tunnel and Atlantic Avenue Elevated respectively. Further extensions opened to Broadway on December 15, 1917 and Andrew on June 29, 1918, both prepayment stations for streetcar transfer. The Broadway station included an upper level with its own tunnel for streetcars, which was abandoned in 1919 due to most lines being truncated to Andrew. The upper level has since been incorporated into the mezzanine.
Next came the Dorchester Extension, now the Ashmont Branch, following a rail right-of-way created in 1870 by the Shawmut Branch Railroad. In 1872, the right-of-way was acquired by the Old Colony Railroad to connect the main line at Harrison Square with the Dorchester and Milton Branch Railroad, running from the Old Colony at Neponset, west to what is now Mattapan station. The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad succeeded Old Colony in operating the branch and passenger service ceased in anticipation of the Boston Elevated Railway expansion on September 4, 1926,
The Boston Elevated opened the first phase of the Dorchester Extension, to Field's Corner station on November 5, 1927, south from Andrew, then southeast to the surface, and along the west side of the Old Colony mainline in a depressed right-of-way. Columbia and Savin Hill stations were built on the surface at the sites of former Old Colony stations. The remainder of the extension opened to Ashmont and Codman Yard on September 1, 1928, and included Shawmut station where there had been no Old Colony station due to its close proximity to Fields Corner. The first phase of the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line opened on August 26, 1929, using the rest of the Shawmut Branch right-of-way, including Cedar Grove station, and part of the old Dorchester and Milton Branch.
MBTA era and branding 
The color red was assigned on August 26, 1965 to what had been called the Cambridge-Dorchester Tunnel and marked on maps as route 1. The color was chosen because the line then ended at Harvard University, whose school color is crimson.
In 1968, letters were assigned to the south branches, "A" for Quincy (planned to extend to South Braintree) and "C" for Ashmont. "B" was probably reserved for a planned branch from Braintree to Brockton. As new rollsigns were made, this lettering was phased out. In 1994, new electronic signs included a different labeling, "A" for Ashmont, "B" for Braintree and "C" for Alewife.
South Shore Line 
The first section of the South Shore Line opened on September 1, 1971, branching from the original Red Line at a flying junction north of Columbia (now JFK/UMass). It ran along the west side of the Old Colony rail right-of-way (which has since been reduced to one track), crossing to the east side north of Savin Hill. The northernmost station was North Quincy, with others at Wollaston and Quincy Center. Beyond Quincy Center, the Braintree Extension runs southward to Braintree, opened March 22, 1980, via an intermediate stop at Quincy Adams which opened on September 10, 1983. The Extension had been first planned by the Boston Transportation Planning Review, published in 1969.
Northwest Extension 
The first part of the Northwest Extension, the relocation of Harvard station, was finished on September 6, 1983. During construction, several temporary stations were built at Harvard Square. Eliot Yard was demolished: Harvard's Kennedy School of Government now sits inside its retaining walls. Extensions to Porter and Davis on December 8, 1984, and to Alewife on March 30, 1985 brought the line to its current terminus. During the expansion, the MBTA pioneered an investment in the "Arts on the Line" public art program.
This extension had been scaled back from an original plan to extend the line from Harvard Square to Route 128 in Lexington via the former B&M/MBTA Bedford Branch railroad right-of-way. That plan had been supported by the Town of Lexington, but was scuttled by fierce anti-urban sentiment in parts of Arlington. The right-of-way on which the extension would have been built was developed into the Minuteman Bikeway.
Recent history 
Platforms on older stations were lengthened mostly in the 1980s to allow six-car trains, which first ran January 21, 1988. (The Northwest Extension and the South Shore Line were built with 6-car platforms). JFK/UMass (then called Columbia) was the first to be modified in 1970, followed by Ashmont and Shawmut in 1981. Between 1984 and 1987, the remaining stations on the original Cambridge-Dorchester Line were rebuilt or modified. In stations like Central and Downtown Crossing, the renovation is apparent where the new architecture is different from the old.
A second Red Line platform opened at JFK/UMass on December 14, 1988, allowing Braintree Branch trains to stop at the station. Since then, the configuration of the line has remained essentially static. In January 2012, the state's Central Transportation Planning staff released a conceptual plan for widening the Southeast Expressway, which would involve completely rearranging JFK/UMass station. The Red Line would be reduced to two tracks sharing a single platform, similar to the arrangements at Andrew, and the junction between the Ashmont and Braintree branches would be streamlined and moved just south of the station. This would allow for a second commuter rail track through the station, allowing more trains to stop and eliminating a major bottleneck for the Old Colony Lines and the Greenbush Line.
Longfellow Bridge rehabilitation project 
A $255 million project starting construction in Spring 2013 will replace structural elements of the Longfellow Bridge, which carries the line across the Charles River between the Charles/MGH and Kendall/MIT stations. The project will require at least 25 weekend shutdowns including temporary relocation of the tracks (substitute bus shuttle service will be provided). All outbound roadway traffic will be detoured from the bridge for the three years of construction. The rebuilt bridge will have widened sidewalks and bike lanes.
Operations and signaling 
The line used trip-stop wayside signaling for the Ashmont and Harvard branches until the mid-1980s, while the Braintree Branch was one of the earliest examples of Automatic Train Control (ATC). The Alewife Branch was built with ATC, at which point the remainder of the line was upgraded to ATC as well. The line was under local control at towers until 1985 when an electromechanical panel was completed at 45 High St. This was replaced in the late 1990s with a software-controlled Automatic Train Supervision, using a product by Union Switch & Signal, subcontracted to Syseca Inc. (now ARINC), at a new theater at 45 High St. Subsequent revisions to the system were made internally at the MBTA.
The shortest scheduled headway run on the line was most likely the 1 3⁄4 minute interval in the schedule published in 1928. Ridership peaked around 1947, when passenger counters logged over 850 people per four-car train during peak periods. The newer ATC signaling was designed to higher safety standards, but the block layout in the downtown area reduced the capacity by 50% over the previous wayside signaling system. The net loss of capacity measured in cars per hour has not been rectified, although at the same time the platforms were lengthened to run six-car trains, which are now operated on a longer headway. The shifting between speed codes that is inherent in an ATC system near capacity caused peak period energy consumption to skyrocket, and accelerated the decline of the 01400 series fleet.
During snowstorms, the MBTA runs an empty train during non-service hours to keep the tracks and third rail clear.
The line is standard gauge heavy rail, excepting the Mattapan Line, which runs trolleys. Trains consist of mated pairs of electric multiple unit cars powered from a 600 VDC third rail. All trains run in six-car sets.
Rolling stock is stabled and maintained at the Cabot Yard near Broadway in South Boston. The connection to this yard is at the junction where the two branches split, near JFK/UMass. Trains are also stabled overnight at Braintree (Caddigan Yard) and Ashmont (Codman Yard), and at the stub tracks west of Alewife. Eliot Yard, on the surface near Harvard, served East Boston Tunnel (now Blue Line) cars for a short time and Red Line cars until it was demolished in the 1970s. (East Boston Tunnel cars accessed the yard through the now-closed Joy Street portal near Bowdoin and a track connection on the Longfellow Bridge).
1912 Cambridge Subway Cars 
The Cambridge Subway began service in 1912 with 40 all-steel motor cars built by the Standard Steel Car Company. They had a novel design as a result of studies about Boston‘s existing lines, with a then-extraordinary length of 69 ft. 2½ in. over buffers and large standee capacity, weighing only 85,900 lb. and with an all-new door arrangement: three single sliding doors per side evenly distributed along the car‘s length so that the maximum distance to a door was around 9 ft. The idea was later taken over by the BMT Standards and Philadelphia‘s Frankford Elevated Line cars. About 20 ft of the car was separated by a bulkhead for a smoking compartment. In contrast to the elevated lines, passenger flowthrough was not intended, and every door was used as both entrance and exit.
Aluminum-bodied cars 
Three series of older aluminum-bodied cars were built: the 1500 and 1600 series by Pullman-Standard 1969–1970, and 1700-57 by UTDC in 1988. These cars seat 62 to 64 each, and approximately 132 cars are in active service. All cars are painted white with red trim, with manually operated exterior roll signs. Before their overhauls, the 1500 and 1600 series had a brushed aluminum livery with a thin red stripe, and were usually called "Silverbird" cars from their natural metal finish.
All these cars use traditional DC traction motors with electromechanical controls manufactured by Westinghouse, and can interoperate. The 1500 and 1700 series cars could operate as singletons, but in practice are always operated as mated pairs. The 1600 series could only operate as married pairs. Originally, the 1500s were double-ended and had two cabs, but were converted to single ended during their midlife overhaul. Headlights are still present on the non-cab ends on the 1500s. The 1700s also have headlights on their non-cab end, but they were built with only one cab.
Stainless steel-bodied cars 
The 1800-85 series of stainless steel–bodied cars was built in 1993–1994 by Bombardier from components manufactured in Canada and assembled in Barre, Vermont. These cars seat 50, and 86 cars are in active service. An automated stop announcement system provides station announcements synchronized with visual announcements in red LED signs ceiling-mounted in each car. These cars are stainless steel with red trim, and use yellow LCD exterior signs. These cars originally had red cloth seats (in contrast to the black leather seats of other cars), but in the early 21st century the cloth seats were replaced with black leather seats. More recently the black leather seats were replaced with vandalism-proof cloth seats containing multi-colored patterns, as with the other Red Line stock.
They have modern AC traction motors with solid state controls manufactured by General Electric, can operate only as mated pairs, and can partially interoperate with older cars in emergencies or non-revenue equipment moves, but not in revenue service.
Increasing capacity 
In December 2008, the MBTA began running a set of modified 1800 series cars without seats, in order to increase train capacity. The MBTA the first transit operator in the United States with heavy rail operations to run cars modified for this purpose. These cars have been designated as "Big Red" cars, denoted by large stickers adjacent to the doors. New automated service announcements at stations alert passengers to the arrival of these high-capacity trains. So far, the MBTA has only one pair of modified cars, in a consist that runs only once during the morning rush hour, toward Alewife, and once during the evening rush hour toward Braintree, departing Alewife at the top of the evening rush.
Replacement of 1500, 1600 series cars 
The MBTA is starting to design the next generation trains, which will replace the 1500 and 1600 series, which are now over 40 years old. .
Aluminum-bodied Red Line train at Braintree station
Aluminum-bodied Red Line cars at Harvard station
Bombardier car at Harvard station
Bombardier car motorman's cab at Braintree station
Art and architecture 
The MBTA pioneered a "percentage for art" public art program called Arts on the Line during its Northwest Extension of the Red Line in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Arts on the Line was the first program of its kind in the United States and became the model for similar drives for art across the country.
The Kendall/MIT station features an interactive public art installation by Paul Matisse called the Kendall Band, which allows the public to activate three sound-producing machines utilizing levers on the wall of the station.
Between South Station and Broadway, as well as Harvard and Central, there have been advertisements in the form of a zoetrope. Each frame of the ad is mechanically revealed as the train goes by, to create an animation effect. There are similar advertisements in parts of the New York City Subway, the Washington Metro, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and the Singapore SMRT.
Station listing 
Main line 
|Station||Location||Opened||Transfers and notes|
|Alewife||Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge||March 30, 1985||bus terminal, park and ride garage, Minuteman Bikeway|
|Davis||Davis Square, Somerville||December 8, 1984||Somerville Community Path|
|Porter||Porter Square, Cambridge||December 8, 1984||MBTA Commuter Rail, Fitchburg Line|
|Harvard||Harvard Square, Cambridge||September 6, 1983||Original station opened March 23, 1912 and closed January 30, 1981, replaced by the current station.|
|Central||Central Square, Cambridge||March 23, 1912|
|Kendall/MIT||Kendall Square, Cambridge||March 23, 1912||originally Kendall until August 6, 1978, named Cambridge Center/MIT between December 2, 1982 and June 25, 1985|
|Charles/MGH||Cambridge and Charles Streets, Boston||February 27, 1932||originally Charles until December 1973|
|Park Street||Park, Tremont, and Winter Streets, Boston||March 23, 1912||Green Line
originally Park Street Under
|Downtown Crossing||Summer, Washington, and Winter Streets, Boston||April 4, 1915||Orange Line and Silver Line Phase I
originally Washington until May 3, 1987
|South Station||Dewey Square, Boston||December 3, 1916||Silver Line Phase II and MBTA Commuter Rail south side lines
Had a transfer to the Atlantic Avenue Elevated
|Broadway||Broadway and Dorchester Avenue, South Boston||December 15, 1917|
|Andrew||Andrew Square, South Boston||June 29, 1918|
|North of JFK/UMass, the Red Line surfaces and separates into two branches which operate on separate platforms at JFK/UMass. Just south of the station, the two branches divide as described below.|
|JFK/UMass||Columbia Road and Morrissey Boulevard, Dorchester||November 5, 1927||MBTA Commuter Rail: Old Colony Lines and Greenbush Line
originally Columbia until December 1, 1982, Braintree platform opened December 14, 1988
was called Crescent Avenue as an Old Colony Railroad station
Ashmont Branch 
Diverging from JFK/UMass:
|Station||Location||Opened||Transfers and notes|
|Savin Hill||Savin Hill Avenue and Sydney Street||November 5, 1927||was an Old Colony Railroad station; tracks for the Braintree branch run next to the station but trains do not stop.|
|Fields Corner||Charles Street and Dorchester Avenue||November 5, 1927||was a Shawmut Branch Railroad station|
|Shawmut||Dayton Street||September 1, 1928|
|Ashmont||Ashmont Street and Dorchester Avenue||September 1, 1928||Continuing service to Mattapan via the 10-minute Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line (opened December 21, 1929)
was a Shawmut Branch Railroad station
Cedar Grove station on the Shawmut Branch Railroad is now a station on the Mattapan Line, after which the line merges with the former Dorchester and Milton Branch Railroad right-of-way
Braintree Branch 
Diverging from JFK/UMass:
|Station||Location||Opened||Transfers and notes|
|North Quincy||East Squantum and Hancock Streets, Quincy||September 1, 1971|
|Wollaston||Newport Avenue and Beale Street, Quincy||September 1, 1971|
|Quincy Center||Hancock and Washington Streets, Quincy||September 1, 1971||MBTA Commuter Rail: Old Colony Lines and Greenbush Line|
|Quincy Adams||Burgin Parkway and Centre Street, Quincy||September 10, 1983||Park and ride|
|Braintree||Ivory and Union Streets, Braintree||March 22, 1980||MBTA Commuter Rail: Old Colony Lines
Park and ride
- "Ridership and Service Statistics". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- "Frequently Asked Questions on the Fare Restructuring and Increase". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Association for Public Transportation, Car-Free in Boston, A Guide for Locals and Visitors, 10th ed. (2003), p. 116.
- Hernandez, Gabrielle (December 6, 2011). "Cell phone service to extend to Blue, Green Lines this month". The Tufts Daily (College Media Network). Retrieved December 31, 2012. "The Red Line, which already has working cell phone coverage in the downtown area between the Kendall and Andrew stations, will get complete cell phone service sometime in 2012, according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo."
- End of service on Old Colony's Shawmut Branch
- Kleespies, Gavin W. and MacDonald, Katie. "Transportation History". Harvard Square Business Association. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
- "misc.transport.urban-transit | Google Groups". Groups-beta.google.com. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
- Belcher, Jonathan (20 July 2011). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district". NETransit. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
- Central Transportation Planning Staff (January 2012). "Improving the Southwest Expressway: A Conceptual Plan". Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
- Powers, Martine (February 28, 2013). "Longfellow Bridge repairs, disruption to start in summer". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- MassDOT. "Longfellow Bridge". Accelerated Bridge Program. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- Ba Tran, Andrew (23 March 2012). "MBTA Red Line's 100th anniversary". Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- O'Regan, Gerry. "MBTA Red Line". nycsubway.org. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
- Steel Cars for the Cambridge Subway In: Electric Railway Journal, Vol XXXIX, No. 2, p. 58.
- MBTA strips out the seats from some Red Line trains
- New Subway Vehicle Procurement / 220 Rapid Transit Cars for the MBTA Red & Orange Lines / Concept Report for the Specification Goal Definitions / Industry Review Release 1 / Revision B. 2009-01-08
- "Boston Inspires Public Art" (PDF). Boston Public Library. 2003. pp. 5, 6. Retrieved 2008-09-01. "the MBTA collaborated with the... Cambridge Arts Council... to acquire art for the Red Line Northwest Extension Project. The result was the beginning of a world-class public art program and collection that has grown to include over seventy pieces on six transit lines."
- "The subway tunnel as video billboard". CNET News. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
- "MRT Riders watch tunnel TV". Retrieved 8 November 2009.
- Whiting, E., Map of Dorchester Massachusetts in 1850 - Boston Public Library Map Collection. The maps shows the Crescent Avenue Depot of the Old Colony Railroad Line.
Further reading 
- Cheney, Frank. (2002) Boston's Red Line: Bridging the Charles from Alewife to Braintree, Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738510477
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: MBTA Red Line|
- MBTA - Red Line
- nycsubway.org - MBTA Red Line
- Video of BIG RED train at Park Street
- Demanding, Designing, and Building the Northwest Extension of Boston’s Red Line (Archived)