Natick Center station
Natick Center station in April 2016
|Location||1 Walnut Street, Natick, Massachusetts|
|Platforms||2 side platforms|
|Connections||MWRTA: 10, 11, Natick Commuter Shuttle|
|Parking||71 spaces (Town permit required)|
4 accessible spaces
|Rebuilt||1897, c. 1962|
|Previous names||Natick (until January 12, 2015)|
|Passengers (2013)||1077 (weekday inbound average)|
Natick Center is an MBTA Commuter Rail station in Natick, Massachusetts. It serves the Framingham/Worcester Line. The station, located below grade in a wide cut adjacent to North Main Street (MA-27), has two low-level side platforms serving the line's two tracks. Natick Center station is not handicapped accessible; the low platforms do not support level boarding, and passage to street level is via staircases only. The busiest non-accessible station on the system, it is planned to receive a major renovation and modernization.
Natick Center station is primarily used by those walking from nearby neighborhoods. A small lot with 71 spaces, owned by the town, is adjacent to the station; a town permit is needed to park. West Natick station, with a larger lot and daily pay spaces, opened two miles to the west in 1982 to serve park and ride commuters. All inbound trains except for a handful of express trains stop at both stations, as well as most outbound non-express trains.
The Boston & Worcester Railroad, extending outwards from Boston, reached Natick in August 1834. To create the first Natick station, the B&A took advantage of eminent domain to take land owned by the Harrison Harwood Baseball Manufacturing Company. The baseball factory is now a condominium overlooking the train station. In 1839, the line was double tracked through Natick. Two other stations were located in Natick: Lake Crossing (at Pond Road on the border with Wellesley to the east) and Walkerville (at Speen Street to the west). Neither lasted long into the 20th century.
The 3.87-mile (6.23 km) Saxonville Branch opened from Natick to the Saxonville section of Framingham on July 6, 1846, with through trains to Boston. Although branch ridership was never high, these trains were timed to allow commuting from Natick for the first time. Stations on the branch included Felchville (at Fisher Street), Cochituate (at Commonwealth Road on the Natick/Framingham border), and Saxonville.
By 1894, the line was quadruple tracked as far west as Lake Crossing. Later that decade, as a grade crossing elimination project, the line was depressed into a wide cut through downtown Natick. A new granite and brownstone station designed by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Jr., a student of H.H. Richardson (who had designed nine stations for the B&A in the 1880s), opened in 1897. The New York Central Railroad acquired the line in 1900, and the third and fourth tracks were extended through Natick in 1907.
The lightly used Saxonville Branch never saw more than three daily round trips; in 1936, passenger service was discontinued. A "bus" – the Saxonville station agent's car – ran to Saxonville until 1943. Freight service continued until the 1980s; the Cochituate Rail Trail is now being built on the right-of-way.
The line was reduced to two tracks through Natick in 1962. Around that time, a large building was built over the 1897 station, with the old station becoming the wine cellar of a liquor store. The original inbound canopy remains for use by the public, though the only station facilities are two bare platforms. The inbound side of the station is supported by the rear wall of the liquor store, decorated with a colorful mural of the Downtown Natick area. A second station serving the town opened at West Natick in 1982 to provide additional parking.
Name change and new station
Natick Center station is not handicapped accessible; the low platforms do not support level boarding, and passage to street level is via staircases only. Inbound weekday ridership in 2013 was 1077 passengers, making Natick Center the busiest non-accessible station on the MBTA Commuter Rail system. Flooding of the inbound track and platform during heavy rains is a recurrent problem. In January 2013, the Town of Natick formed a formal committee to advise the town on developing plans for a rebuilt station.
In June 2014, conceptual plans were unveiled for upgrades to make the station fully handicapped accessible with high-level platforms and accessible routes from street level. The rebuilt station would replace the existing side platforms with an island platform for cost and operational reasons, with a third track (to serve as a freight passing track) able to fit into the wide existing trench as well. The proposal would provide better integration of the station with the surrounding streets, including a deck over parts of the trench between Washington Street and Main Street. One option with the new station and a pedestrian-only deck was projected to cost $26.0 million, while a deck incorporating a bus loop would add $17 million more.
In July 2014, the MBTA agreed to the town's request to change the station's name as part of a larger rebranding of the Natick Center area. Online maps were changed shortly thereafter, and on January 12, 2015, the station was officially renamed as Natick Center. In March 2016, $4 million for completing design of the station was included in a draft 2017–2021 MBTA capital plan.
After further MBTA review, the island platform design was replaced with two side platforms in 2017. The third track will not be added as part of initial construction, but space will be left between the two main tracks to add it in the future. As of August 2018[update], design is expected to be completed in 2019.
MWRTA buses serve Natick Center station via Route 27 (North Main Street). The Route 10 – Natick Daily Route and Route 11 – Natick Mid-Day run all-day service in identical loops in opposite directions around Natick, and connect to West Natick station and the Framingham hub to the west.
- "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14th ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014.
- Humphrey, Thomas J. & Clark, Norton D. (1985). Boston's Commuter Rail: The First 150 Years. Boston Street Railway Association. pp. 21–25. ISBN 9780685412947.
- Karr, Ronald Dale (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Branch Line Press. pp. 278–283. ISBN 0942147022.
- "Natick". County Atlas of Middlesex Massachusetts. F.W. Beers & Co. 1875. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- "Felchville". County Atlas of Middlesex Massachusetts. F.W. Beers & Co. 1875. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- Roy, John H. Jr. (2007). A Field Guide to Southern New England Railroad Depots and Freight Houses. Branch Line Press. pp. 302–03. ISBN 9780942147087.
- Humphrey, Thomas J. & Clark, Norton D. (1986). Boston's Commuter Rail: Second Section. Boston Street Railway Association. pp. 39, 61. ISBN 9780938315025.
- Saxonville (Map). Atlas of Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Geo. H. Walker & Co. 1889. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- Belcher, Jonathan (23 March 2013). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
- Rosen, Andy; Roberts, Sarah (21 August 2015). "Heavy rains cause commuter rail delays, snarl commute". Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
- Henrich, Michael (30 September 2015). "Storm causes flooding on MBTA Commuter Rail tracks". FOX25 Boston. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015.
- "MBTA Station Advisory Committee". Town of Natick. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015.
- Benson, Brian (4 August 2014). "MBTA backs Natick Center station name change". MetroWest Daily News. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- McMahon Associates; URS (15 June 2014). "Natick Center MBTA Commuter Rail Station: Feasibility Study and Conceptual Design for Upgrades (Draft)". Town of Natick. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015.
- McMahon Associates; URS (18 June 2014). "Implementation Framework". Natick Center MBTA Commuter Rail Station Improvements Implementation Plan (Draft). Town of Natick. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015.
- Arsenault, Charlene (12 January 2015). "MBTA Commuter Rail Station Now 'Natick Center Station'". Natick Patch. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015.
- Benson, Brian (26 March 2016). "MBTA eyes money for Natick Center station design". Metrowest Daily News. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
- Benson, Brian (December 17, 2017). "Natick Center train station design progressing". Metrowest Daily News.
- Schwan, Henry (August 12, 2018). "Redesign on the way for Natick Center station". Metrowest Daily News.
- "Natick Commuter Shuttle". MetroWest Regional Transit Authority. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Natick Center station.|
- MBTA – Natick
- MBTA – Natick Center Accessibility Improvements Project Page
- Natick Center station from North Avenue on Google Maps Street View
- Cochituate Rail Trail