Needham Center (MBTA station)

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Needham Center MBTA station, Needham MA.jpg
Needham Center station in June 2010
Location Great Plain Avenue & Eaton Square
Needham, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°16′49″N 71°14′16″W / 42.2804°N 71.2378°W / 42.2804; -71.2378Coordinates: 42°16′49″N 71°14′16″W / 42.2804°N 71.2378°W / 42.2804; -71.2378
Owned by MBTA
Platforms 1 side platform
Tracks 1
Connections Bus transport MBTA Bus: 59
Bicycle facilities 6 spaces
Disabled access Yes
Other information
Fare zone 2
Opened June 1, 1853[2]
Closed October 13, 1979 - October 19, 1987[1]
Rebuilt 1887, 1980s
Previous names Great Plain, Needham Plain, Needham[2][3]
Passengers (2013) 975 (weekday inbound average)[4]
Preceding station   MBTA.svg MBTA   Following station
Needham Line

Needham Center is a commuter rail station on the MBTA Commuter Rail Needham Line, located just north of Great Plains Avenue (MA-135) in downtown Needham, Massachusetts. The first station at Needham opened in 1853; it burned in 1887 and was replaced with a stone station, some of which is still in place. The station is fully handicapped accessible.


Great Plain[edit]

On June 1, 1853, the Charles River Branch Railroad was extended from Newton Upper Falls into Needham as the first stage of a line to Dover and beyond.[2] The railroad was not able to follow its original plan to go through the East Village, Needham's historical center, because one landowner refused to sell; instead, it was routed to Great Plain station in Great Plain Village further to the east.[5][3] Great Plain served as the terminus of the railroad until it was extended to Medway in 1861 and to Woonsocket in 1863.[2]


1887-built Needham station on a c. 1910 postcard
One corner of the 1887 station is extant and used as a restaurant

With the coming of the railroad, Great Plain Village eclipsed East Village as the primary business district of Needham, and it officially became the town center in 1879.[3] The station's name was gradually changed to Needham Plain, then Needham.[2]

By the 1880s, the line was part of the New York and New England Railroad. The original gable-roofed wooden station burned in 1887 and was replaced with a stone station with a turreted roof. Most of the building was destroyed in the mid 20th century, but one corner remains and is part of a restaurant.[5]

Needham Cutoff[edit]

The line became part of the New Haven Railroad's Midland Division in 1898. In 1906, the New Haven opened the Needham Cutoff, a faster route to Boston that avoided the rival Boston and Albany Railroad's Highland Branch tracks. The line through Needham was thus downgraded from an intercity route to a branch line.[2]

Loop service jointly run by the B&A and the New Haven operated over the Cutoff and the Highland Branch via Needham from 1911 to 1914; after that, most Needham trains originated at Needham Heights. Service between Newton Highlands and Newton Upper Falls ended in 1927, and between Needham Heights and Newton Upper Falls in 1932, leaving Needham Heights as the terminus of the line.[2]

MBTA era[edit]

The MBTA bought Penn Central's southside commuter rail assets, including the Needham Line, on January 27, 1973.[1] The station was closed with the rest of the line from October 13, 1979 to October 19, 1987 during Southwest Corridor construction.[1] Upon reopening, the station was renamed as Needham Center to differentiate it from Needham Heights and Needham Junction stations. A mini-high platform was added during the closure, making Needham Center fully handicapped accessible.

Bus connections[edit]

Needham Center is served by one MBTA Bus route, which runs on Chapel Street just to the east:


  1. ^ a b c Belcher, Jonathan (19 March 2016). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district 1964-2016" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 25 March 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Humphrey, Thomas J.; Clark, Norton D. (1985). Boston's Commuter Rail: The First 150 Years. Boston Street Railway Association. pp. 43–46. ISBN 9780685412947. 
  3. ^ a b c Clarke, George Kuhn (1911). History of Needham, Massachusetts, 1711-1911. University Press. pp. 413–416, 420, 422 – via Internet Archive. 
  4. ^ "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14 ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Roy, John H. Jr. (2007). A Field Guide to Southern New England Railroad Depots and Freight Houses. Branch Line Press. p. 195. ISBN 9780942147087. 

External links[edit]