The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has undertaken a major rehabilitation of the Fairmount Corridor Commuter Rail Line in Boston. Also known as Dorchester Branch, the railway line is owned by the MBTA.
Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company (MBCR), a joint venture between Veolia Transportation North America, Bombardier Transportation and Alternate Concepts, operates the line under a contract with MBTA.
The 9.2 mile railway link exclusively serves south of the city of Boston and the urban areas under the MBTA scope of service.
A feasibility study by Jacobs Edwards and Kelcey (JEK) in 2002 concluded the Fairmount Corridor rehabilitation would decrease the overcrowding of buses in the area and increase train ridership.
The rehabilitation will play a vital role in improving public access as it is convenient and direct. The project is expected to increase the ridership on the line from 2,800 to 7,300 passengers a day.
Total cost of the Fairmount line improvement project is estimated at $87m. MBTA is also planning to implement the use of diesel multiple units (DMUs) over the current push-pull locomotives.
Construction work on the project was started in 2005 and the entire project is expected to be completed by 2015. It will create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs in addition to generating more revenues.
Line route specifics
The commuter railway line runs between South Station and Readville. The line begins at South Station and runs southwest along Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan before ending at Readville Station in Hyde Park. It currently crosses 41 bridges and has five stations at Readville (terminus), Fairmount, Morton Street, Uphams Corner and Boston South Station (terminus).
The rehabilitation project
The railway improvement project will add four new stations, along the route, at Newmarket, Four Corners / Geneva, Talbot Avenue and Blue Hill Avenue.
The station locations were selected based on their proximity to neighbourhood residents and potential bus service enhancements. The existing Morton Street and Uphams Corner stations will also be rehabilitated.
The project includes reconstruction of six existing bridges located at Neponset River, Massachusetts Avenue, Columbia Road, Talbot Avenue, Quincy Street and Woodrow Avenue. The bridges at Geneva Avenue, Dudley Street, East Cottage Street and Norfolk Street will also undergo minor repair works, painting and de-leading.
Rail line and station infrastructure
The new stations will include passenger shelters, seats, 800ft long high level platforms, windscreens, canopies, wayfinding signage, non-glare lighting and electronic message sign displays. Pedestrian walkways and wheelchair ramps at all the main intersections at the stations will ease commuter access.
The Blue Hill Avenue, Talbot Avenue and Four Corners / Geneva stations will also have off street pick-up / drop-off and parking areas.
Construction works on the Fairmount commuter rail rehabilitation
Construction work on the Fairmount commuter rail rehabilitation project was started in 2005. It is being completed in two phases. The $37m phase I involved reconstruction and upgrade of the railway bridges and rehabilitation of Morton and Upham Corner stations.
The four new stations make up phase II of the construction. Work on the $17.7m Four Corners / Geneva station was started in July 2010 and is scheduled for completion in September 2012.
Construction of the $12m commuter railway station at Newmarket was started in January 2011 and will be completed by February 2013. S&R Construction is the general contractor and Shea Concrete is the precast concrete materials supplier for the construction of this station.
Groundbreaking of the $15.9m Talbot station was held in June 2011. The construction work has been contracted to Barletta Heavy Division and is expected to be completed by January 2013. The Blue Hill Avenue station is in the design phase, as of October 2011.
The replacement of railway bridges at Woodrow Avenue and Talbot Avenue will follow fast-track technique along with the construction of Talbot Avenue station.
The bridges will be built on-site and installed in position after the demolition of the old bridges so the interruptions to the railway service will be minimal.
Signalling and communications along the line
New track interlock switching systems construction and upgrades to the signalling systems are also being undertaken. The stations will be installed with a train approach warning system, closed circuit television (CCTV) video surveillance cameras, public telephones and police emergency call box systems.