Providence station

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Providence, RI
Providence Station 2015.jpg
Providence station in September 2015
Location100 Gaspee Street
Providence, Rhode Island
Coordinates41°49′45″N 71°24′48″W / 41.829087°N 71.41325°W / 41.829087; -71.41325Coordinates: 41°49′45″N 71°24′48″W / 41.829087°N 71.41325°W / 41.829087; -71.41325
Owned byAmtrak
Line(s)Northeast Corridor
Platforms2 island platforms
Tracks5 (4 passenger; 1 freight)
ConnectionsBus transport RIPTA: 50, 55, 56, 57, 62 R-Line
Disabled accessYes
Other information
Station codePVD
Passengers (2017)745,703 per year[1]Increase 3.93% (Amtrak)
Passengers (2013)2,325 daily boardings[2] (Commuter Rail)
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
New London Acela Express Route 128
Kingston Northeast Regional
Preceding station MBTA.svg MBTA Following station
T. F. Green Airport Providence/​Stoughton Line South Attleboro
Special events
Proposed services
Preceding station Boston Surface Railroad Following station
toward Worcester
Main Line
Former services
Preceding station New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Following station
East Greenwich
toward New Haven
Shore Line Pawtucket-Central Falls
toward Boston
Pawtucket-Central Falls
toward Worcester
Providence and Worcester Railroad Terminus
toward Hartford
New York and New England Railroad

Providence is a railroad station in Providence, Rhode Island, served by Amtrak and MBTA Commuter Rail. The station has four tracks and two island platforms for passenger service, with a fifth track passing through for Providence and Worcester Railroad freight trains. It is now the 11th busiest Amtrak station in the country, and the busiest on the MBTA Commuter Rail system outside of the downtown Boston terminals.[2][3]

The station was built in 1986 during a project to remove elevated tracks from downtown Providence. It is fully handicapped accessible for all trains.

Rail service[edit]

Two of Amtrak's passenger rail routes serve the station: the Acela Express and the Northeast Regional. The Acela Express is the United States' only high-speed rail service; the Regional is a slower local service. Both connect Providence with the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington D.C.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) also serves Providence. The Providence/Stoughton commuter rail line's southern terminus is located at Wickford Junction, two stops south of Providence. The Providence/Stoughton Line provides commuter service to towns between the airport, Providence and Boston, sharing track with Amtrak trains. In a 2013 count, Providence averaged 2,325 inbound MBTA passengers on weekdays, making it the busiest station on the system outside of the downtown Boston terminals.[2]


Union Station, 1847-1896
A postcard image of the 2nd Union Station, circa 1910

Providence's first railroad station was built in 1835 by the Boston and Providence Rail Road at India Point.[4] The Providence and Stonington built a depot at Crary Street in South Providence in 1838, and the two were soon connected by a ferry service.[4]

The first through service stopped at Union Station, a brick edifice built in 1847 by the Providence & Worcester, Providence & Stonington, and Boston & Providence Railroads. It was designed by 21-year-old architect Thomas Alexander Tefft.[4] This building was lost to fire in 1896 and was replaced by a larger Union Station, completed in 1898 by the New Haven Railroad. It consisted of five large brick structures, which still form the northern side of Kennedy Plaza in the center of Downtown Providence.

In 1986, the Northeast Corridor through Providence was relocated north to free up land from a mass of elevated tracks, popularly called the "Chinese Wall," that had hemmed in downtown Providence. The new and smaller station was built across Gaspee Street from the Rhode Island State House. The five tracks and two platforms are located below ground level underneath the station building.

Service history[edit]

Amtrak has served Providence since its inception in 1971, with Northeast Corridor trains from Boston to New York and Washington. Local commuter service - both intrastate service and service to Boston - has been intermittent during this era. After Penn Central discontinued their New London to Boston commuter train in 1972, Rhode Island sponsored a short lived Westerly to Providence service (which lasted until 1979) in addition to the MBTA's Providence to Boston service.[5] Sunday service ended in October 1977 and off-peak and Saturday service ended in April 1979 due to Rhode Island's limited subsidies; rush-hour service ceased on February 20, 1981.[5] Rush hour commuter service began again (to the new station) in February 1988, with off-peak service added in December 2000 and weekend service added in July 2006.[5] A new layover facility for MBTA commuter trains, located north of the station in Pawtucket, opened in 2006, allowing the MBTA to increase service to the city. Service was further extended to T.F. Green Airport in December 2010 and to Wickford Junction in April 2012.[5]

Additionally, some game-day service to Foxboro has run from Providence since 1994, as well as a brief stint in 1971.[5] Special trains run for New England Patriots football games as well as some New England Revolution soccer games and college sporting events.

The first revenue Acela Express service to Providence was on December 11, 2000, concurrent with the expansion of MBTA service.[5]

The station is proposed to be the southern terminus of the proposed Boston Surface Railroad, a commuter rail line proposed to begin operation between Providence and Worcester, Massachusetts in 2020.


Interior of the station
Distinctive brutalist clock tower in the station's southwest corner

The station was designed in the Washington, D.C. office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill by Milo Meacham under the direction of Marilyn Jordan Taylor. It is a simple building in the brutalist style, with a large square clocktower. Although largely subterranean and lacking the grand scale that was possible in when Union Station was built in 1898, the station has been positively received by critics. The project received a citation in the 1983 Progressive Architecture Awards. Local architectural historian William McKenzie Woodward lauded the building for its aesthetics, calling its saucer dome "an obvious yet very gracious gesture toward the State House".[6] In 2010, Architect praised the forethought of the designers in planning for the revitalization of Providence's downtown, saying that "[i]ts design accommodated the complex geometries of a circulation pattern oriented toward the Capitol and a structure aligned with the tracks, while its splayed plan opened out to what was then an imagined city, one that Providence eventually made happen."[7]

Bus connections[edit]

A southbound R-Line bus stopped at Providence

Kennedy Plaza, the main hub for RIPTA bus service, is located 0.25 miles (0.40 km) to the south along Exchange Street. Five RIPTA routes, including the R-Line rapid bus service, operate directly to Providence. Four routes stop on Gaspee Street on the north side of the station:

One route runs on Park Row West on the south side of the station:

A taxi stand is located on Gaspee Street on the north side of the station.


  1. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2017, State of Rhode Island" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14 ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  3. ^ "Amtrak National Facts". Amtrak. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Belcher, Jonathan (31 December 2011). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  6. ^ Woodward, William McKenzie (2003). Guide to Providence Architecture'. Providence Preservation Society. pp. 303–304. ISBN 9780974284705.
  7. ^ Fisher, Thomas (16 February 2010). "Providence in Providence". Architect. Retrieved 5 July 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]