Providence/Stoughton Line

  (Redirected from Stoughton Branch)

The Providence/Stoughton Line is a line of the MBTA Commuter Rail system running southwest from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The main line was originally built by the Boston and Providence Railroad, and now carries commuter trains between South Station in Boston and Wickford Junction station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The Stoughton Branch, built as the Stoughton Branch Railroad, splits at Canton Junction and runs for two more stations to Stoughton station in Stoughton, Massachusetts.

Providence/Stoughton Line
An outbound Providence/Stoughton Line train at Route 128 station
OwnerMBTA (within Massachusetts)
Amtrak (within Rhode Island)
LocaleSoutheastern Massachusetts
Rhode Island
TerminiSouth Station
Wickford Junction or Stoughton
SystemMBTA Commuter Rail
Operator(s)Keolis North America
Daily ridership25,728 (2018)[1]
Line length62.9 miles (101.2 km) (South Station–Wickford Junction)
18.9 miles (30.4 km) (South Station–Stoughton)[2]
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map

0.0 mi
0 km
South Station
Silver Line (MBTA) MBTA Commuter Rail Amtrak
1.2 mi
1.9 km
Back Bay
MBTA Commuter Rail Amtrak
2.2 mi
3.5 km
MBTA Commuter Rail
6.5 mi
10.5 km
Mount Hope (closed)
8.4 mi
13.5 km
9.5 mi
15.3 km
11.4 mi
18.3 km
Route 128
14.8 mi
23.8 km
Canton Junction
Stoughton Branch
15.6 mi
25.1 km
Canton Center
18.9 mi
30.4 km
17.9 mi
28.8 km
22.4 mi
36 km
East Foxboro (closed)
(special events only)
24.7 mi
39.8 km
31.8 mi
51.2 km
36.8 mi
59.2 km
South Attleboro
Providence and
Worcester Railroad
39.5 mi
63.6 km
43.6 mi
70.2 km
51.9 mi
83.5 km
T. F. Green Airport
T.F. Green Airport
62.9 mi
101.2 km
Wickford Junction
70.6 mi
113.6 km
Kingston (proposed) Amtrak

An extension of the Providence section of the line to T. F. Green Airport and Wickford Junction opened in stages in 2010 and 2012, making the Providence/Stoughton Line the longest of the MBTA's commuter rail lines (surpassing the Fitchburg Line), while an extension of the Stoughton Branch to New Bedford and Fall River is under construction.

All stations are handicapped accessible with short or full-length high level platforms. Newer stations like T.F. Green Airport, and Amtrak stations like Providence, usually have full-length high level platforms; older stations have mostly been retrofitted with high-level platforms one car length long. The line is the busiest on the MBTA Commuter Rail system, with 25,728 daily boardings by a 2018 count.[1]


An Attleboro/Stoughton Line train in 1982
1990-opened South Attleboro station in 2013

On December 31, 1968, the recently formed Penn Central bought the failing New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. The MBTA bought the section of the Providence–Boston line in Massachusetts, as well as many other lines including the Stoughton Branch, from Penn Central on January 27, 1973. On April 1, 1976 Conrail took over Penn Central and the commuter rail equipment was sold to the MBTA, though operation continued to be done by Conrail. Full subsidies by the MBTA for the Providence and Stoughton lines began on September 28, 1976, before which the Federal government helped. On March 31, 1977, the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority and Rhode Island Department of Transportation began to subsidize service beyond the MBTA district, and Stoughton began to pay to keep its station open, that cost later going to the Brockton Area Transit Authority.

On November 3, 1979, the line was closed north of Readville for long-term reconstruction as part of the Southwest Corridor project. All trains began using what is now the Fairmount Line, and special shuttle trains connected South Station to Back Bay. The new line, rebuilt below grade with space for three tracks (the old one had been above grade with room for four tracks), opened on October 5, 1987.[3] The Orange Line shares the corridor between Back Bay and Forest Hills.

In 1990, a northbound commuter train was involved in a collision with a northbound Night Owl train. The accident, which occurred to the west of Back Bay station, injured over four hundred people, although there were no fatalities.[4]

On February 20, 1981, the MBTA stopped serving Rhode Island, as funding from the state had ended. On September 17, 1986, the two states reached an agreement to resume service.[5] Rush-hour service was restored on February 1, 1988. On June 20, 1990, a new stop opened in South Attleboro and most trains were extended to the station; regular Sunday service returned in 1992.[3] Some off-peak weekday trains were extended to Providence starting on December 11, 2000.[3] On July 24, 2006, the MBTA increased weekday Providence from 11 to 15 daily round trips. Weekend service to Providence resumed on July 29, and a new layover facility was opened in Pawtucket.[6][7][8]

Amtrak electrified the Providence Line in 2000, but the MBTA has not utilized this. In 2019, the MBTA had preliminary discussions with Amtrak about leasing Siemens ACS-64 electric locomotives to test on the Providence Line.[9]

Service changes effective November 2, 2020 shifted some peak service to off-peak, providing 60-minute all-day headways between Providence and Boston.[10]


Map of South County Commuter Rail project, showing the extension to T.F. Green Airport and Wickford Junction

As part of the South County Commuter Rail initiative, a 20-mile extension past Providence to T. F. Green Airport and Wickford Junction in Rhode Island is now fully open. The T. F. Green Airport part of the extension opened in December 2010, with Wickford Junction service beginning in April 2012.[11]

A further 24-mile extension is under consideration by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. Possible stops include Cranston and East Greenwich, plus existing Amtrak stations in Kingston and Westerly and a possible revival of the Pawtucket/Central Falls station. Rhode Island eventually plans to have its own statewide commuter service along the Northeast Corridor that would connect with MBTA service and an extension of Shore Line East.[12] This would be the first commuter service to Westerly since the last state-sponsored train was run in December 1979.[3] A passing siding and new platforms at Kingston, completed in 2017, may enable extension of some trains there in the near term.[13]

The second phase of the South Coast Rail project, planned for 2030, will electrify the Stoughton Branch and extend it to Taunton, where it will continue on 2023-opened branches to Fall River and New Bedford.

Special event serviceEdit

In August 1971, the MBTA began operating Boston–Foxboro and Providence–Foxboro service for events at the new Foxboro Stadium. Providence service was soon discontinued, but Boston service remained in operation.[3] By the early 1990s, these trains operated over the Providence/Stoughton Line, with intermediate stops at Back Bay, Route 128, Canton Junction, Sharon, and Mansfield; a reverse move was made at Mansfield to access the Framingham Secondary.[14] Providence–Foxboro event service resumed in 1994, with intermediate stops at South Attleboro, Attleboro, and Mansfield; Boston–Foxboro service was rerouted over the Franklin Line.[3][15][16] Event service was extended to T.F. Green Airport in 2012, but cut back to Providence in 2019.[17][18]

Ownership and financingEdit

The MBTA owns the track from Boston to the Rhode Island border. Track in Rhode Island is owned by Amtrak. The entire line is part of the Northeast Corridor.

As part of the 1988[19] Pilgrim Partnership Agreement, Rhode Island provides capital funding (including some of its federal formula funds) for MBTA expansion in the state. Massachusetts (through the MBTA) provides the operating subsidy for MBTA Commuter Rail service in return.[20] Rhode Island also pays Amtrak to allow the MBTA to use its tracks.[21]

Station listingEdit

Commuter rail platform at Ruggles station
Platforms and station building at Mansfield
Crumbling station at Pawtucket/Central Falls, last used in 1981
State Fare zone Location Mile (km)[2][22] Station Connections and notes
MA 1A Boston 0.0 (0.0)   South Station   Amtrak: Acela, Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional
  MBTA Commuter Rail: Fairmount, Framingham/Worcester, Franklin, Greenbush, Old Colony, and Needham lines; CapeFlyer (seasonal)
  MBTA subway: Red Line; Silver Line (SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4)
  MBTA bus: 4, 7, 11
  Intercity buses at South Station Bus Terminal
1.2 (1.9)   Back Bay   Amtrak: Acela Express, Lake Shore Limited, Northeast Regional
  MBTA Commuter Rail: Framingham/Worcester, Franklin, and Needham lines
  MBTA subway: Orange Line
  MBTA bus: 10, 39, 170
2.2 (3.5)   Ruggles   MBTA Commuter Rail: Franklin and Needham lines
  MBTA subway: Orange Line
  MBTA bus: 8, 15, 19, 22, 23, 28, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, CT2, CT3
5.0 (8.0)   Forest Hills Served by Needham Line and Orange Line trains only
6.5 (10.5) Mount Hope Closed November 2, 1979
1 8.4 (13.5)   Hyde Park   MBTA bus: 32, 33, 50, 192
2 9.5 (15.3)   Readville Served by Fairmount Line and Franklin Line trains only
Westwood 11.4 (18.3)   Route 128   Amtrak: Acela Express, Northeast Regional
3 Canton 14.8 (23.8)   Canton Junction Split with Stoughton Branch
4 Sharon 17.9 (28.8)   Sharon
Foxborough 23.0 (37.0) East Foxboro Closed November 1977
6 Mansfield 24.7 (39.8)   Mansfield   GATRA: 140
7 Attleboro 31.8 (51.2)   Attleboro   GATRA: 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 24
36.8 (59.2)   South Attleboro   RIPTA: 1, 35
RI Pawtucket 39.0 (62.8) Pawtucket–​Central Falls Closed February 19, 1981
39.5 (63.6) Pawtucket/Central Falls Under construction; planned to open in 2022
8 Providence 43.6 (70.2)   Providence   Amtrak: Acela Express, Northeast Regional
  RIPTA: R-Line, 50, 55, 56, 57, 62
9 Warwick 51.9 (83.5)   T.F. Green Airport   RIPTA: 1, 8, 14, 20
10 North Kingstown 62.9 (101.2)   Wickford Junction   RIPTA: 65X, 66
  Currently operating station

Stoughton BranchEdit

State Fare zone Location Mile (km)[2] Station Connections and notes
MA 3 Canton 15.0 (24.1)   Canton Junction Splits from main line (Northeast Corridor)
15.6 (25.1)   Canton Center   MBTA bus: 716
4 Stoughton 18.9 (30.4)   Stoughton   BAT: 14
  Currently operating station


  1. ^ a b "Commuter Rail Ridership Counts" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. January 28, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14th ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Belcher, Jonathan. "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit.
  4. ^ "Railroad Accident Report RAR-92-01: Derailment and Collision of Amtrak Passenger Train 66 with MBTA Commuter Train 906 at Back Bay Station, Boston, Massachusetts, December 12, 1990" (PDF). National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, DC. 25 February 1992.
  5. ^ Sanborn, George M. (1992). A Chronicle of the Boston Transit System. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority – via Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  6. ^ "MBTA Expanding Train Service To Providence On Weekdays, Introducing New Service On Weekends" (Press release). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. July 14, 2006.
  7. ^ Castellucci, John (25 April 2006). "Planned rail yard will expand routes, relieve neighbors". Providence Journal. Archived from the original on 24 September 2009.
  8. ^ "MBTA, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, RI Governor Carcieri, RIDOT Officially Open Pawtucket Layover Facility" (Press release). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. August 2, 2006.
  9. ^ Vaccaro, Adam (March 21, 2019). "Take the E-train? MBTA mulling electric locomotives". Boston Globe.
  10. ^ DiAdamo, Rob (September 14, 2020). "Fall 2020 Commuter Rail Schedule Changes" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
  11. ^ Samantha, Turner (4 November 2010). "Commuter Rail Station To Open In 2012". North Kingston Patch. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  12. ^ Edwards and Kelcey, Inc (July 2001). "South County Commuter Rail Service: Operations Plan" (PDF). Rhode Island Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 April 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  13. ^ Barrett, Chris (31 December 2009). "Kingston MBTA stop project proposed". Providence Business News. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  14. ^ "MBTA rail service is available to Patriots games". Boston Globe. September 12, 1993. p. 39 – via  
  15. ^ Hernandez, Efrain (June 17, 1994). "How to get to the game". Boston Globe. p. 108 – via  
  16. ^ Smith, Sean (September 14, 1997). "If you're going to the game..." Boston Globe. p. 64 – via  
  17. ^ "Riding the T: Patriots". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on September 19, 2012.
  18. ^ "Gillette Stadium". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on August 22, 2019.
  19. ^ "COMMUTER RAIL SERVICE TO WARWICK'S T.F. GREEN STATION UNDERWAY". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  20. ^ "South County Commuter Rail". Federal Transit Administration. 2011. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  21. ^ Bierman, Noah (10 September 2009). "Vote set on T link to R.I. airport". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  22. ^ Held, Patrick R. (2010). "Massachusetts Bay Colony Railroad Track Charts" (PDF). Johns Hopkins Association for Computing Machinery. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2012.

External linksEdit

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