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Boston and New England Railroads


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Railroads in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine

Providence & Worcester Railroad
Many railroads, such as the Providence & Worcester offer a wide range of EDI and electronic commerce services.

Find out more about electronic commerce in the railroad industry.

Cape Cod

Welcome to our Boston and New England WebSite

Here's a preview of some of the exciting projects we have put together for you:

Read about Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn , a three-foot narrow gauge railroad;
Boston subways ;
The Red Line and other stories;
Railroads North of Boston
; and Boston commuting .

See our New England Railroad Reference Section and a section on
Tourist Trains in New England

Other articles you will like are:

New England Railroad: Maine to Montreal

Union Freight Railroad

Railway History in New England

Railroads and Snow!

See Penney Vanderbilt BLOG about Golf and Vacations, especially on the French Riviera

Interesting Railway Stations

Find out about liberty and Fair Promise

Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn was a three-foot narrow gauge railroad

This three-foot-gauge, known as the BRB&L, ran from Lynn, Massachusetts along the shore through Revere to the company's ferry connection at East Boston. The BRB&L boats ran into a terminal at Foster's Wharf in downtown Boston. There was also a branch known as the Winthrop Loop.

The BRB&L was known to area residents as the "Narrow Gauge". It opened in 1875 as part of a land development scheme set up by Alpheus P. Blake and also partially as a result of the "Great Depot War" in Lynn. In Lynn, the Eastern Railroad alienated many area residents by not locating a depot to conveniently serve them. As little money as possible was put into the 8-mile road. The single track was of marginal quality. It was so popular that additional equipment was ordered almost as soon as it opened.

The Narrow Gauge was even a pioneer in the history of railroading. In 1879, the first instance of telephone dispatching took place. Walschaert valve gear was on BRB&L locomotives before becoming standard on all locomotives.

Locomotives were standardized early to a Mason-bogie design. Originally built by the Mason Locomotive Company, the later versions were built by the Manchester Works of the American Locomotive Company. They were classified as a 2-4-4. All were built by 1914 and 25 were scrapped in 1928. One survived to provide steam heat for the carhouse. These were nicknamed "coffee roasters" and served until electrification in 1928. With this million-dollar electrification, old steam coaches were converted to "rapid transit cars" powered by 600 volts D.C. delivered by trolley pole.

Several ferries were used over the life of the Narrow Gauge. The last was built in 1908. All had wooden hulls and all carried only passengers.

The Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn was initially built to allow working classes access to beaches; but it was equally important when the served towns became bedroom communities of Boston.

The branch to Winthrop and on to Point Shirley had originally been several separate railroads. In the late 1880's, three lines in the area were taken over by the BRB&L. A loop into Winthrop remained and the line to Point Shirley which had been storm-damaged was abandoned.

Electrification brought the Narrow Gauge kicking and screaming into the twentieth century overnight. Running times were improved and the line put on a huge advertising campaign. The former steam-railroad enginemen converted easily to motormen. Power came from converters in Lynn and Orient Heights. There was also a portable substation mounted on a flat car. Rails were bonded, curves regraded, and automatic block signals installed. Prepayment systems were installed in all the stations. 263 catenary towers held $100,000 worth of trolley wire. Main contractors on the project were General Electric of Schenectady and Wason Manufacturing of Springfield.

The Great Depression was hard on the Narrow Gauge and it went under in 1940. Electrification had added a huge debt service to the road. After 1929, ridership declined and the company tried several belt-tightening measures. Four semi-convertible cars from the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway were purchased for use on the Winthrop Loop and for off-hour service. These one-man cars were cheaper to run than the electrified steam coaches.

While the Boston Elevated had service to East Boston that bypassed the ferry, the effect was not great because they served different territories. Both companies were hurt by automobile competition in general and in particular by the new Sumner Tunnel (vehicular) which opened in 1934. Also in 1934, Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway introduced direct bus service to Boston. As early as 1934, politicians tried to get the Boston Elevated to acquire the BRB&L and eliminate the ferries. Boston Elevated Railway acquired trackage from the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway directly into Revere and now made a direct connection. The BRB&L filed for bankruptcy in 1937 and the Hurricane of 1938 caused much damage. On the positive side, the Suffolk Downs racetrack opened in 1935, but this traffic had to be shared with the Boston Elevated and busses.

Ironically, if the railroad had stayed running a few more months, it would have survived as a 'war emergency' measure and taken over by the Boston Elevated. 310 employees lost their jobs when the Narrow Gauge folded. At the end, 4 ferries, 79 motor cars, 7 trailers, 7 work cars and the portable substation were left. Most equipment was burned so as to make the metal more accessible (imagine trying to do that today!). Now days, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's "Blue Line" (successor to the Boston Elevated Railway) runs over sections of the right-of-way. Even today, the Narrow Gauge retains a great nostalgic value to many people in the area. One Boston-area transit fan I know wasn't even born in 1940 but truly admires the old line.

By Ken Kinlock at
CPR 7010

CPR 7010

As well as this picture, Dwyer Wedvick has provided us with a wealth of rare information: All about Baldwin RS12s and commuting on the NY Central West Shore; a great picture of his B&M model; Pictures of the old Haworth, NJ station ( Front and Back).

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A business trip to Boston and to the big intermodal freight terminal on Western Avenue only took a few hours. My associate suggested we kill some time and take a trip over MBTA's Red Line. We drove to the big parking garage at Alewife, parked on the roof as all floors were full, and went downstairs to catch the train. The equipment waiting for us was new and in outstanding shape. Even the tunnel was new as far a Harvard. We rode right behind the operator and watched how the cab signals made operations easy and painless. From downtown, we first took the branch through Quincey to Braintree. Then we reversed as far as Andrew and took the branch to Ashmont. Here we changed to a PCC in order to continue to Mattapan.

At Braintree, you can see the CONRAIL (ex-Old Colony) line to Nantasket Junction. Another railroad in the area served the Fore River Shipyard. This 2.36 mile line eventually became part of General Dynamics.

The line to Mattapan is the last stand of the once-numerous PCC's in Boston. There are only ten of them still in service. This line runs right through the middle of a cemetary. We had quite a laugh watching the PCC operator reading newspaper while he worked. My associate is a weekend trolley operator and wouldn't conceive of ever doing this. There is even a snow plow at Mattapan fabricated from an older-model trolley. This branch paralled the Old Colony line which ran to the old Baker Chocolate factory.

Boston's Metropolitan Transit Authority was created from Boston Elevated Railway Company in 1947. It was reorganized as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in 1964. The Boston Elevated Railway had been chartered in 1894 and been brought under public control in 1918. In 1925, daily ridership was 1,066,000 using 1,649 trolleys, 468 rapid transit cars and 69 buses. 1969 ridership was 621,000 (daily) using 375 rapid transit cars, 343 streetcars, 58 trackless trolleys and 1,113 buses. In 1916, there were over 3,000 trolleys, not including 234 snow plows, 9 mail cars and several hundred service vehicles.

One Boston-area casualty in 1970 was the Union Freight Railroad. It had been incorporated in 1872 under Old Colony ownership and taken over by the New Haven in 1893. It consisted of 2.11 miles of what looked like abandoned streetcar track. A 4 m.p.h. speed allowed the crews to watch for derailments. Near the end, it got into a state of disrepair. Their 1966 expenditures for repairs were only $8.75!

The Union Freight Railroad was a South Station to North Station connection. In other words, a connection for the New York Central and the New Haven with the B&M. Freight was its businesses; the only use of this line for passengers was a 1940 excursion. It ran a night because of street limitations put on it by the city. The line originally went into South Station via a "switchback" arrangement then followed Atlantic Ave north. Later the line north from South Station was out of service (but kept in case of bridge outages) and the road used a connection from Northern Avenue over the Fort Point Channel. Yards and offices were on Atlantic Avenue in what is now a waterfront park. The Union Freight Railroad ran underneath the Atlantic Avenue Elevated for many years. It followed Atlantic Avenue to Commercial Street then turned onto causeway street. Instead of connecting to the B&M at North Station, it connected via a longer route up Lowell Street because it served many molasses firms. The molasses business ended when a storage tank blew up in 1918. At that time, the line was shortened and connected to North Station. For motive power, it used steam dummies, then Climax locomotives, then five 44-tonners (bought in 1946 but sold 1953 because they were too small), then New Haven diesels.

There have been many changes in railroading in the Boston area in the past few years. New York Central's Beacon Park enginehouse was leveled in the early 1960's for a turnpike extension into Boston. The New Haven and the New York Central were taken over by Penn Central then CONRAIL with some consolidations of trackage. The 1970's saw the appearance of AMTRAK. The MBTA is now expanding: The line to Braintree is new and another goes to Malden but there has been some cutbacks on the old PCC routes. The Boston & Maine trackage is mostly intack except for the branch to Marblehead.

Boston MBTA features several excellent places to "park and ride". As well as Alewive, I could have gotten off the Massachusetts Turnpike at Exit 14 and taken Route 128 south to Riverside (just follow the "T" signs).

By Ken Kinlock at
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Downtown Boston Freight

Yes, Boston once had a lot of rail freight. On a large Fairchild Aerial Survey of the Railroad facilities which, judging from the script symbol applied, is from the Dumaine era,looks north from the Summer Street Bridge toward the Harbor and East Boston. From left to right the facilities include 1. Fan Yard with No. 4 House: Stone's Express, Springmeier Shipping Company, Gulf Carloading Company 2. NHRR Inbound and Outbound LCL Freight Houses along Northern Avenue 3. No. 5 Yard 4. Fish Loading Platforms 5. A&P Fish and Produce Warehouse 6. New England Transportation Company 7. No. 7 House - Lifschultz Fast Freight 8. No. 8 House - Pacific and Atlantic Shippers Association, Terminal Freight Handling \Company 9. No. 5 House - Acme Fast Freight, International Forwarding Company 10. No. 6 House - National Forwarding Company.

In the last year of the NHRR, following cars on OB-4 headed to the downtown area: NH 21619 Paper Towels, Green Bay Wis. to Stetson, Boston, ATSF 620329 Wine, ModColony, Cal. to Pappas, Boston, GATX 39200 Alcohol, Muscatine, Iowa to Mr. Boston Distributors, Boston, PC 165699 Cigarettes, Reidsville, NC to American Tobacco, Boston, GN 33182 Mixed Freight, Harlem River to Knickerbocker, Boston, WCLX 2422 Fresh Meat, Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Wilson Com., Boston, WCLX 2123 Fresh Meat Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Wilson Com., Boston, WCLX 2076 Fresh Meat, Albert Lea, Minn. to Wilson Com., Boston, ]R. I. 27822 Flour, Minneapolis, Minn. to Thurman, Boston, TTX 300161, Flat Car with FTZZ, Mdse. Chicago, Ill. to Itofca, Boston c/o B&T and ELZZ 207630 Mdse. Chicago to Itofca, Boston, c/o F. Cole, TTX 301181 Flat Car with RIZZ 509231 Fresh Meat Wichita, Kan. to Cudahy, Boston - Supreme Packing Co. c/o New Market Service and CNWZ 505121, Fresh Meat Galt, Ill to Armour, Boston, - Merchants Beef Co. c/o New Market Service, IC 28323 Mdse. Chicago, Ill to Lifshultz Fast Freight, Boston, UP 113922 Mdse. Chicago, Ill to Lifshultz Fast Freight, Boston.
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Springfield, Massachusetts

Springfield was a great spot to see three railroads in action.

In the days of steam up through the 1940's, some equipment was lettered Boston and Albany but by the 1950's, everything was lettered New York Central. New Haven trains used the same station and had to operate on tracks owned and controlled by the New York Central to use the passenger station. The Boston and Maine also used this same station after coming in from the north. Some trains ran through from the New Haven to the Boston and Maine and if they did run through, they had to cross over the B. & A. on a diamond and then back into the station.

Each of the three railroads there had a tower of their own which controlled movements on that particular railroad. On the New Haven it was SS-274 which later under Penn Central was renamed "Spring". On the New York Central (B&A) it was interlocking 40 and on the Boston and Maine (B&M) it was called WA tower. A through train from the New Haven to the Boston and Maine needed the cooperation of all three towers in order to cross the B&A on the diamond and back into the station.

The main freight yard for the New Haven was also north of the diamond and was the Boston and Maine facility which was referred to as yard 3. The New Haven had a small yard south of the diamond which was referred to as yard 1 and was mostly for passenger, mail and express cars although a few cars for local customers could sometimes be found there too.

The New Haven and the Boston and Maine had a joint engine terminal which was owned by the New Haven but jointly operated by the two railroads. Most of the people working there were New Haven people but a few of them were Boston and Maine people. Boston and Maine engines could always be found at that engine terminal laying over or being serviced between trips. Sometimes Boston and Maine Budd Cars could also be found there.

In the early 1960's, Springfield could be a very interesting place for train watching on the three different railroads which at that time were all still double track as well. The passenger station was also at that time a nice spot and had quite a bit of activity.

All three railroads had yard engines working although the B&M and the New Haven had an equity arrangement and some of yard work on the B&M side was handled by New Haven crews.

Passenger trains did not take much more that an hour and 30 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes to run the length of the Hartford line. There were usually no instances where a faster passenger train would overtake a slower one. Keeping freight trains out of the way of passenger jobs was more of a concern on this line. Springfield Station had plenty of tracks and crossovers to make just about any kind of move desired with a passenger train that had arrived and discharged all it's riders. Rather than cut the engines off and run around the train, it was easier to turn the entire train. With the conductor and flagman on the rear end, the train would be backed into the B&M trackage north of the diamond, pulled south over the diamond onto the New Haven trackage, then backed back into the station, ready to go south again. Passenger trains could also be switched out, to alter the consist, in the coach yard just south of the engine house on the New Haven trackage.

See track diagram. See our picture of the Springfield station.

The Fore River Railroad

is owned by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and operated under contract by the Fore River Transportation Corporation. The 2.7-mile-long rail line runs from Quincy Point to the Greenbush Commuter Line in Braintree. The railroad ships Bay State Fertilizer for MWRA and fatty acids for a local manufacturing plant, Twin Rivers Technologies.

Some Commuters don't "Fit the Mold"

Commuter rail lines are designed for someone from an outlying town who works in the center of a big city (like Boston). But what about those who don't fit that mold?

One commuter recently talked about his experiences. He lives in southern New Hampshire and he works in Danvers MA. There is NO line that goes anywhere NEAR between the two. Even if he worked in Boston, even allowing for the traffic, driving is still quicker than the train.

He likes trains and wishes he could take one to/from work. Even if it took a LITTLE longer than driving, the 'hassle factor' would more than make up for it.

The last several places he has worked:

Watertown MA - no rail anywhere near.

Andover MA - commuter rail goes to Boston but is MILES from the office parks

Cambridge MA - commuter rail and 2 subway lines to get NEAR the office.

Boston MA (Seaport) - commuter rail and, again, 2 subway lines AND a bus - though now the Silver Line goes there.

Boston MA (Kenmore Sq) - commuter rail and 1 or 2 subway lines. His drive was 55 minutes. Coming home could take 2 hours by train.

Framingham MA - forget it.

Worcester MA - From NH? Are you kidding?

It's not often he has had the option and when he has it's not been terribly practical.

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List of Massachusetts Railroads
Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad
Union Freight Railroad
Union Freight Railroad: great idea for HO scle layout
Boston and Lowell Railroad
Commuter Trains
Boston Transit
South Station
Railroad Stations in Massachusetts
History of Railroading in Maine
Oxford Junction Press
Your source for railroad timetables

Want to buy a Railroad?

In April, 2006, the Providence and Worcester Railroad advertised to sell three and a-half miles of railbed that runs through Thompson, Connecticut. Railroad company official Mary Tanona says the P-and-W doesn't have any use for the railbed.

In 2004, the railroad sold the state of Massachusetts about eleven miles of abandoned track from Southbridge to Webster for a little more than one million dollars.

As far as buying a railroad, the Grafton & Upton is on the block for a cool $2m. That's a better deal. More route miles with the possibility of two connections to the outside world (though one would take a whole lot of work to restore service).
The article on the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn appeared April 1994 in the BRIDGE LINE BULLETIN of the Bridge Line Historical Society.
The article on the Boston Red Line appeared December 1992 in the BRIDGE LINE BULLETIN.
The article on North of Boston is from the January 1993 BRIDGE LINE BULLETIN.
The Boston commuting article was published in July 1991
in the CALLBOARD of the Mohawk and Hudson Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
Corsica Ferry

Traveling in Europe?
You will probably need to make a FERRY RESERVATION.

Also available in French
Stop by and see our Reservations Center.
Corsica Ferry

Tourist Trains in New England

Not a full list, but here are a few in New England

Berkshire Scenic

Boothbay Railway Village

Branford Trolley Museum

Cape Cod Central

Connecticut Eastern Museum

Connecticut Trolley Museum

Conway Scenic Railroad

Danbury Railroad Museum

Edaville Railroad
Essex Steam Train

Green Mountain Railroad


Maine Eastern Railroad
Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad

Mt Washington Cog Railway

Railroad Museum of New England

Seashore Trolley Museum

Shelburne Trolley Museum
Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington

Slone-Stanley Machinery Museum has (narrow gauge steamers)
Western Connecticut Chapter NRHS and SONO Switch Tower Museum
South Norwalk Signal Station has a new use
Western Connecticut Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society are operators of the SONO Switch Tower Museum (pictured above)
New Hampshire Railroad Association

MBTA's Subway System

MBTA's Blue Line from the Wiki

The Blue Line as seen by

MBTA Tools & History
Boston Rapid Transit System

Boston Rapid Transit System

Click here or on map to enlarge.
New England Railroad
It is our intention to bring Train Service into Maine from Portland to Montreal. Our train would begin in Portland and make stops in Gorham, NH, N. Stratford, NH, Island Pond, VT and finally reaching its destination in Montreal.

In the future we will be trying to establish a projected route through North Conway, NH, St. Johnsbury, VT. up to Newport, VT. and into Montreal, CN. Our beginning alternate route will begin in Portland, ME to Gorham, NH and N. Stratford, NH to Island Pond, VT continuing to Montreal, CN. We are planning to rebuild stations that no longer exist and restore stations that do exist but are in need of repair along these routes. Our service is tentatively scheduled to begin on October 1, 2006. The towns and cities we plan to have stops in along this route are; Portland, Gorham, N. Stratford, and Montreal. We are attempting to provide passenger/tourist service in a time that fuel costs are rising and there is congestion on our highways. Our Rail Service will also benefit the local cities and towns by bringing more tourist into the area who would not otherwise visit these towns. New England Railroad is dedicated to providing the best service to our passengers. We also will be providing a service to the senior citizens and disabled to bring them to destinations that they would have a difficult time reaching. Our service will throughout the year offer specials providing a community service for differant age groups, and stimulating community and family interaction. Our goal is to provide, safe, reliable, elegant, superior service and a better mode of transportation, at affordable prices making alternative transportation easy, convenient and possible.

See an update
Berkshire Scenic Railway
New England Gateway, The New


North Station

Boston is one of the few cities in America that still has two railroad stations. South Station is better known because AMTRAK goes here, both from New York and from Albany. North Station is strictly commuter. Like their names say - they are at opposite ends of downtown.

These two stations are the consolidation of eight different stations in use before 1892 by eight different railroads. Apparently, further consolidation to one railroad terminal was not accomplished because local store owners wished through travelers would stop to buy goods.

As well as commuters, North Station serves travelers to some of New England's most interesting vacation spots. This station was built in 1929 and replaced an earlier 1892 building. At one point the original station was America's second busiest rail terminal (after South Station). It sits amidst a warehouse district ten walking minutes from Faneuil Hall. It can be reached from either Green Line or Orange Line subways. Its Art Deco features are quite run down because its future is uncertain. It is owned by the organization which owns Boston Garden (located on top of the waiting room).

The MBTA has upgraded their equipment in the last few years and is now quite efficient. Previously old Boston & Maine trains were quite sorry. The Budd RDCs which replaced old coaches were getting kind of run down. The MBTA purchased 19 rebuilt ex-Gulf, Mobile & Ohio F3's designated FP10's, as well as 13 new purple, yellow and silver F40PHs. They also purchased many Pullman-Standard push-pull cars.

North Station has TV monitors announcing train departures. Ticket windows are open daily for departures. There are no luggage facilities or rest rooms. For food service and rest rooms refer to Wendy's, Burger King and McDonald's across the street. Trains operate seven days a week until midnight. Fares are by zone and both 12-trip and monthly passes are offered. Children and seniors pay half fare and there is a family plan.


Concord, site of the famous Revolutionary War "shot heard round the world" can be reached from North Station in 41 minutes. From North Station, take any Fitchburg line train for the 20-mile trip. Since the train makes a connection at Harvard, you might consider a stop here on your return. The train passes through Waltham and an 1814 factory which is considered the home of the American Industrial Revolution. A few miles beyond, a sharp eye can catch a glimpse of Walden Pond where Thoreau once lived in a hut.

The depot in Concord is on a street with many stores. The station is a mini shopping center and includes a fancy restaurant. At the foot of Main Street is Monument Square (the town green) where a granite obelisk honors the Civil War veterans. On the green is the Colonial Inn (built in 1716) and Wright Tavern which headquartered both Americans and Redcoats. Now it is an historical bookshop where guidebooks and maps of the town are sold. Since the various monuments are not on top of one another, a bicycle is a good way to see the sites. A bike rental is close by.

North Bridge, where the Minutemen faced the Redcoats is a half mile from the square. Nearby is a Visitors Center where displays and slide shows depict the battle. Some of the other attractions in town are Emerson's House and the Thoreau Lyceum.


Lowell is 40 minutes from North Station. It is the site of an "urban National Park" which is worth the visit. The park is located in an old 19th Century factory. There are tours all day, interesting exhibits, and a show that depicts how Lowell was the first planned industrial community in the United States. For trolley buffs, there are a pair of open-air trolleys which carry visitors around the factory site.

The park contains canals with operating gatehouses, mill worker housing and 19th century commercial structures. The town's early prosperity led to increased competition and subsequent decline. The mills closed or moved, businesses shut and unemployment rose. A resurgence of local pride has led to a remarkable revival in the local economy. Lowell is once again a rapidly growing industrial center.


Fall foliage trains attract many "leaf peepers" who otherwise would be gumming up the highways. The train to Gardner, Massachusetts will cover some of the best scenery. There is limited service here (it is beyond Fitchburg) but the 8:50am covers the 66 mile trip in 41 minutes. The peak of the season is around Columbus Day. The round trip costs $9.00 and has a half hour stop in Gardner. This train serves as a ski train in the winter.

Salem, Glouster, Rockport and the North Shore

Trains to the North Shore cross the Charles River and afford a view of the old frigate CONSTITUTION. Next come the towns of Everett, Chelsea and Lynn. Lynn was once "Shoe City" but now is noted for jet engines.

Salem's big deal is witches. There are witch houses, witch museums, etc. Nathaniel Hawthorne grew up here and many of his novels were set here. It was once and important seaport. The Customs House (where Hawthorne once worked) is now part of a maritime museum. Other attractions include the Peabody Museum which is America's oldest (1799). Of course, Salem contains the House of Seven Gables.

Urban renewal demolished Salem's old station which included a train shed and put the tracks underground. The result was a pair of stairs leading to a big parking lot. Even more recently, a new station has been opened just outside the business district with even more parking.

Next to Salem is Marblehead. It is a small seaport with extremely narrow streets. At one time the B&M tracks went here. You can spot the abandoned railbed at several spots

Across a bridge from Salem is Beverly. Although I had heard it was sort of a so-so industrial place, it is really beautiful along the shore. The branch splits here with one leg going to Ipswich and the other to Rockport.

Beverly turns into Beverly Farms and then Manchester. This area is where many wealthy Bostonians summer. From here to the end of the line, the area is referred to as Cape Ann.

Glouster is America's oldest fishing port and is still important for this reason. Some of the big plants here are Gorton's and Taste O'Sea. Nearby is Rocky Neck which is an old artist's colony with galleries, shops and restaurants.

Rockport is the end of the railroad line and of Cape Ann. It is a busy tourist town. A small peninsula called Bearskin Neck is full of boutiques, restaurants, craft galleries, etc. On the town wharf is Motif #1, a weathered red fishing shack that is the Atlantic coast's most photographed, painted and drawn building. It was recently destroyed in a storm but quickly replaced.

Other branches

The last branch I did not really comment on runs north between the Lowell branch and the Ipswich branch. It runs frequent service to Reading and less frequent service to Andover, Lawrence and Haverhill.


The Boston & Maine's roots go back to the 25 mile Boston & Lowell opened in 1835. The mid-19th century was an era of furious building which saw tracks extended to virtually every village in the region. It was also an era of fierce competition. The Eastern Railroad ran from Boston through Salem and Portsmouth to Portland, Maine. After years of rate wars, the B&M leased the Eastern in 1884. The 207-mile Boston & Maine of 1883 would grow into a 2285-mile regional giant by 1900. The 1887 takeover of the Boston & Lowell extended the B&M throughout New Hampshire.

The B&M was under control of the New Haven from 1907 to 1913. In 1916 it declared its first bankruptcy. As early as 1924, the B&M established a highway subsidiary to run busses and trucks to branch line towns where business had begun to fall off.

The commuter business had always been unprofitable. Beginning in 1964, a state subsidy began which eventually increased to cover 100% of B&M's losses. In 1977, the MBTA purchased 279 miles of Boston-area trackage as well as the entire 84-car RDC fleet. It is now an all-MBTA operation.

By Ken Kinlock at
Atlantic Northeast Rails and Ports DownEast Riders
Nashua City Station Providence & Worcester Railfan Club

Boston Commuting

Boston commuting consists of two zones - one set of tracks from North Station and the other from South Station.

Each has its own cliental and sphere of transportation influence, unencumbered by connection except for the transit authority (MBTA) which guides both segments. The MBTA operates the Boston-area rapid transit system, commuter rail service, and suburban bus service. Its history traces back to the Boston Elevated Railway which became the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in 1947 and assumed its present title in 1964. From 13 towns, it grew to a 79-town system.

North Station has 10 stub end tracks and is served by the Orange Line.

South Station has 10 stub end tracks and three storage tracks. It also serves AMTRAK and is served by the Red Line. Currently 207 commuter trains and 25 AMTRAK runs bring 36,000 passengers through the train each weekday. This ranks the station as one of Boston's top retail exposure zones. 243 miles of track extended over eight lines.

$80 million ($25 million private) has been spent on South Station to make a November 4, 1989 rededication happen. South Station had become a sorry mess - now it gleams. When built in 1898, it had 28 tracks and served 876 trains a day by 1907. The 1960's saw it sink to a low as the New Haven went into bankruptcy. Everybody proposed schemes to fix/use it: a stadium; a world trade center; and a mall. Finally Boston has seen the value of South Station. The MBTA has contracted with a private development company to fill the building, which is a national landmark, with upscale retail tenants.

From South Station the heaviest travelled path runs to Providence RI. A short stub takes off at Canton Jct., offering limited service to Stoughton (19 miles). Otherwise the remaining lines lie to the west of the old New Haven Shore Line. The suburb of Franklin (28 miles) is connected by way of Readville and Needham (14 miles) traffic breaks away from the four-track line at Arnold. An important commuter route is the former Boston & Albany to Framingham and Worcester (44 miles). Even some Boston-Washington AMTRAK's use this route; as well as the Boston section of the "Lake Shore Limited". The Boston-Providence (44 miles) local service is on the New York-Boston main line and shares track with several AMTRAK runs.

7,612 F-series diesels were produced by the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors between Southern's first FT in 1939 and the last New Haven FL9 in 1960. By 1982, less than 250 remained. Boston purchased 19 yellow, purple and gray units that had started with the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio. Began as a batch of F3A's purchased in 1946, they had been ordered by Chicago & Alton before its merger with GM&O. Other units ordered were F3B's, F7A's and F7B's. GM&O eventually had 54 units by 1949.

Several were rebuilt by ICG's Paducah Shops in Kentucky as FP10's in 1979.

Boston commuter rail converted from private to public ownership in the 1970's. the ancestry of Boston commuting service is the Boston & Maine (North Station) and the Boston & Albany and the New Haven (South Station). After several years of subsidization , the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA ... usually called the "T") moved to take full control of the services operated by Boston & Maine and Penn Central (which had succeeded the B&A and New Haven). The MBTA has a lengthy name but a simple logo: the letter T displayed in a round circle.

By 1976, MBTA had purchased B&M's RDC fleet and the locomotives and cars used by Penn Central on ex-New Haven and ex-New York Central (Boston & Albany) lines. They also purchased the commuter trackage in the Boston area. CONRAIL was thrown out of operating commuter lines in 1977 with B&M being given the operating contract. Equipment included 17 GP9's from the New Haven built in 1956. MBTA funded a conversion of steam heat to HEP.

The Authority ordered 18 F40PH's. They had considered rebuilding GP9's with HEP but instead traded them into Paducah Shops. The cost of a rebuilt F3 was $300,000 as compared to new F40's which cost $700,000. 8 old PC E-8's were in service in 1979 as well as 86 RDC's. Not all were active and some were converted to steam cars and HEP power or control cabs.

The colorful cabs were nicknamed "Easter Eggs" and had 1500 h.p. Similar engines were also used in Washington and Pittsburgh

MBTA utilizes Pullman-Standard push-pull coaches. Several GO Transit cars leased from Toronto for several years and at one time 72 old New Haven "Shoreliner" cars were in service.

The Old Colony Railroad opened in 1845 between Plymouth and a temporary station in South Boston. A special excursion train carried many notable passengers including Daniel Webster and John Quincey Adams. By 1847, the line was extended to a new station on Kneeland Street in Boston.

The South Shore Railroad opened in 1849 from the Plymouth line's Braintree Station to Cohasset. It was leased to and operated by the Old Colony until 1877 when it was sold to the Old Colony. The Duxbury & Cohasset Railroad was built in 1870-71. An extension was built to the Plymouth line at Kingston in 1874 and it was sold to the Old Colony in 1878.

In 1872 the Old Colony took over the Cape Cod Railroad Company that ran from Boston to Provincetown. After all this acquisition, the 600-mile Old Colony was absorbed into the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in 1893.

The fight to save Old Colony passenger service began in 1948 when the New Haven announced plans to discontinue 221 trains. Over the next ten years, many state and local commissions "studied" the problem. A 1958 abandonment announcement by the New Haven prompted emergency legislation which bought a year's extension. Service ended June 30, 1959. It has taken 30 years for the people to wake up, and the jury is still out. The present financial woes of Massachusetts have delayed the proposed revival of the Old Colony lines to the mid-1990's (and maybe beyond that).

A current estimate says Massachusetts will have to spend $198 million for the Old Colony and at least $443 million for a new Central Artery and a third harbor tunnel. The governor is requesting to raise the state's gasoline excise tax which is the fourth lowest in the nation.

High-speed rail service from Boston to New York still faces hurdles:

None of the equipment tested recently had suitable dual-power locomotives to enter the New York area.

Spanish-built Talgo cars, considered to be most comfortable, carried fewer passengers than current AMFLEET equipment and had doors lower than station platforms.

An estimated $150 million is needed for bridge and rail crossing construction.

As well as commuter rail, the MBTA operates a multi-line rapid transit system serving Boston and its suburbs. The Blue Line (600 volt DC, third rail/catenary) serves the northern suburbs; the Orange Line (600 volt DC, third rail) extends southward to Quincy; the Red Line (600 volt, third rail/catenary) serves the Cambridge area; and the Green Line (light-rail trolley cars, 600 volt catenary) serves the western suburbs.
Union Freight Railroad

Union Freight Railroad Company was a short railroad that ran down the middle of Atlantic Avenue in Boston.

It was established to connect the northern and southern running railroad lines so that freight-cars could be exchanged between the lines. It extended from Lowell Railroad station (Lowell Street) to the Old Colony Station on Kneeland Street. It was also used to transfer cars directly to outbound vessels at the local deep water wharfs. The railroad operated mainly at night and was jointly owned by Old Colony Railroad and the Boston and Providence Railroad.

Later it was owned by the New Haven Railroad.

Connection with the New Haven ceased on Sept. 9, 1969 when rails were severed just south of State Street. A few minutes after 1:00 AM Thursday, March 5, 1970 the Union Frt. Co. died on track 3 in North Station. Above information from the book "The Railroad that came out at night" by Frank Kyper
Newport, Rhode Island

Required Attire for a Remote Workforce

Ever wonder how your telecommuting colleagues really live? Turns out, many of them actually do work in their pajamas. They also tend to love their work-life balance – to the point where they’d take a pay cut to maintain the status quo. This is a “must read” for both remote workers and for their office-bound managers.
Railroad Station at Troy, New York

Railroad Station at Troy, New York

The station in Troy was owned by the Troy Union Rail Road. The TURR lasted from the mid 19th Century till the mid 20th Century. It was owned by the New York Central, Delaware & Hudson and Boston & Maine. Access from the South was from Rensselaer; from the West, via the Green Island Bridge; from the North was street running almost the entire length of Troy. See Penney's blog for more information (and a great movie from the 1950's).

Budd Cars from Boston went all the way to Troy, NY

History of the Railways of Massachusetts

By Hon. Edward Appleton, Railway Commissioner—1871

Bulletin No. 1--The Railroad Enthusiasts, Inc.
The Greenbush Rail Line
The Mason Bogies of The Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad
Rotary plow

Railroads and Snow

See some historic photographs of the railroads in snow. Rotary plows in snow! Great stories of railroad action in Winter!
MBTA logo Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts
Mass Home New England Depot
Penn Central New Haven Railroad New York Central Railroad

Interested in Penn Central? New York Central? Pennsylvania Railroad? New Haven Railroad? or in the smaller Eastern US railroads? Then you will be interested in "What if the Penn Central Merger Did Not Happen". You will also enjoy "Could George Alpert have saved the New Haven?" as well as "What if the New Haven never merged with Penn Central?"

See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History
KC Jones
GlobalHighway The Global Highway:
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A portal to the World. The Global Highway leads everywhere! Follow it to wherever you might want to go. We have something for everyone!
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On June 13, 1845 the Troy & Greenbush Railroad opened between Troy and Greenbush, NY. It is the last link in an all-rail line between Boston and Buffalo. See more random dates in railroad history.
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