Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dedication of Three New Stations on the MBTA Fairmont Commuter Line

As reported by the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority on July 17, 2013, Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey and MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott officially opened the Four Corners Commuter Rail Station, celebrating a series of recent  recent improvements made along the entire Fairmount Commuter Rail Line.  These improvements included track, signal and bridge updgrades, as well as two other new stations, at Talbot Avenue and Newmarket.

These new stations represent a continuing trend in the restoration of passenger rail service in New England within the last 2 years.  The other improvements include two new stations in Rhode Island on the MBTA Providence Line (Warwick/TF Green Aiprort and Wickford Jct.), two stations in Maine on the extension of the Downeaster intercity service (Freeport and Brunswick), and two stations as part of the Cape Flyer service to Cape Cod.

The Fairmont line is unique in the MBTA system, in that it is entirely within the City of Boston.  As such, it acts as a hybrid mode, using commuter rail equipment but serving an intracity transit market.  The line bisects the Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods, nearly halfway between the Orange and Red Lines.

Originally part of the New York and New England Railroad's mainline, it bypassed Back Bay Station, through which most of the south side commuter services ran.  When the line was merged into the New Haven Railroad, which ran all the service radiating south of Boston, it was delegated primarily as the freight route, whereas the passenger route ran up what is now the Providence Line, passing through Back Bay on its way to South Station.  Passenger service was provided until 1944.

Passenger service was restored on Nov. 3, 1979 when commuter trains and Amtrak intercity services were shifted over the the Fairmont line for the duration of the Southwest Corridor project.  Three stations were served by a shuttle service.  This service was kept after the other passenger services were restored to the mainline.

With the opening of the three new stations, service now consists of 40 to 45 minute headways at peak hours and hour headways in between.

Proposals to provide more frequent services (perhaps every 30 minutes) have been explored, as has the use of diesel multiple unit trains, which would be shorter and have faster acceleration.  

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