Blue Line

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The Blue Line, as we know it now, has quite an interesting history to it.  The present line running from Bowdoin Square Station in Boston to its Wonderland Terminal started service on 5 January 1952.  Before that the history is somewhat complex.  Originally built for what appeared to be a streetcar line the East Boston Tunnel, as it was first known was one of the earliest underwater tunnels to be built around 1904.  The original line went to East Boston to Maverick Square.  Because of heavy crowding of the platforms it was decided to institute high platform third rail service between Bowdoin Square and a location in East Boston across the harbor where passengers could then transfer to regular surface car connections.  The actual changeover took place on the weekend of 18 April 1924. 

Additional expansion was suggested as early as 1925 to go beyond Maverick Square using the right of way of a former electrified narrow gauge railroad owned by the Boston and Maine.  In 1951 with the building of Logan Airport and an extension of the East Boston Expressway the state legislature authorized the extension of the service to Orient Heights  where the shops were also built to service the line.  New service started on 5 January 1952.  The success of the new line led to the construction of additional trackage eventually ending at Bath House which was subsequently renamed Wonderland in 1954 after an old amusement park that was once at that location. At the present time there is talk of extending the Blue Line further north towards at least Lynn most likely using the old narrow gauge electric line right of way. Once the extension to Orient Heights was finished the old loop at what was Maverick Square was removed along with a considerable amount of changes in transit in that area.

Because of the approximate location to the ocean and the salt breeze it was decided that cars north of Logan (formerly Maverick) would use an overhead cantenary system.  Eastbound trains change from third rail to overhead while standing at the Logan station while westbound trains reverse the process on the fly before entering the subway at the same location.  The only comparable system was the Chicago Transit Authority's "Skokie Swift" that, like the Blue Line, used the right of way of an abandoned electric railroad and switched from third rail to overhead on the fly.  The Skokie Swift is now all third rail.

The Blue Line cars are unique in a number of ways.  They are 48 feet long versus the normal about 70 feet on the Red and Orange Lines.  The reason is more than likely due to the tight curves and clearances in downtown Boston on the original subway dating back to surface cars.  The present 0600 class, with the exception of 18 cars, were due for retirement when this was written originally in 2007.  The early retirement is due, in part, to the wear and tear created by the high winds and salt from the nearby ocean.  In their place 94 new cars from Siemens are being delivered that will be in the 0700 class. The first of the new Blue Line cars were put into operation on 20 February 2008.  Together, with the remaining cars, the Blue Line will be able to run six car trains during peak hours.  By October, 2009 the 0600 cars left were used only as standbys. All daytime service is by 6 car 0700 trains. 0600 (Class 4) and 0700 (class 5) cars cannot be trainlined together. MBTA no longer has an 0600 cars on the property with one set currently running at the Seashore Trolley Museum at Kennebunkport, Maine.

 

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Wonderland Terminal

Wonderland is the present northern terminal of the Blue Line.  The train enters the station letting passengers off and then moves north of the station where it crosses over to the inbound track.  The operator changes the sign age to indicate the train is heading back to Bowdoin and waits at the inbound platform before proceeding back to Boston via Orient Heights and downtown Boston.  Wonderland received its name from a long gone amusement park. The terminal has a large park and ride facility on the inbound side and a convenient transfer to connecting bus service on the outbound side. On the south side is an overpass that permits commuters to go from one side to the other. Also included on the inbound platform is a room set a side for the terminal's inspector/supervisor. These pictures depict operations at Wonderland over three separate visits including the new 0700 class cars built by Siemens introducing six car trains. The last visit took place in early October, 2009.

 


 

Wonderland Pictures
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On a beautiful Autumn morning a Blue Line train approaches the Wonderland Terminal after switching and reversing directions.

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That same morning another Blue Line train made up of 0600 cars is preparing to load passengers heading for a quick trip to downtown Boston.

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Another Blue Line train enters Wonderland Terminal in this early October, 2007 picture.

 

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The class car of the 0600 series brings up the rear of this Blue Line train pulling out of Wonderland Terminal in this October, 2007 shot.

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A few moments later an outbound train from Boston approaches the Wonderland Terminal.

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A close up view of an outbound train at the final curve before coming into Wonderland Terminal

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The same train closer to Wonderland's outbound platform. To the right of the platform are buses for commuters to transfer to. Over the enclosed overpass to the other side is a large park and ride facility.

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On a cloudy September, 2008 afternoon an inbound Blue Line train pulls into the Wonderland station getting ready to take passengers to Logan Airport and downtown Boston.

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Parked on the inbound platform is another Blue Line train getting ready to head back to downtown Boston.

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A slightly wide angle view of the front end of a 0600 class car at Wonderland terminal in this September, 2008 shot.

Why MBTA is replacing the 0600 class cars due to damage from the salt from the nearby ocean
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These next two pictures speak for themselves. All though the Blue Line and Orange Line cars were delivered at the same time the Blue Line cars suffered from the effects of the salt air from the nearby ocean and harbors. The results are shown here with the obvious damage to the cars and the structure. By mid 2009 only a handful of 0600 cars will remain in storage for standby servivce only as the rest of the service will be with the 0700 cars.

 

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The new Blue Line 0700 class. By September, 2008 there were enough for rush hour six car trains
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A six car set of the new 0700 cars sit on the tail tracks just north of the Wonderland Terminal. These cars are stainless steel and resistant to the nearby ocean's salt air.

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The same train is now moving towards the inbound platform to pick up passengers. These new cars represent the latest state of the art components and were built by Siemens.

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Getting ready to leave Wonderland in this late September, 2008 shot you can also see the overpass that allows passengers to cross over the tracks.

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The new 0700 cars were being used primarily in rush hour service as six car trains as shown in this shot showing the new cars approaching Wonderland

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The lead car is 0740 indicating that perhaps half of the order was delivered by the end of September, 2008. The cars resemble the style of the older 0600 class but seem to have a lighter shade of blue. Their stainless steel exterior will allow them to last longer than the 0600 series.

   
By October, 2009 all basic service was with the new 0700 Siemens cars as shown at these stations below.
10beach2009 An outbound Blue Line train approaches the newly remodeled Beachmont station.
beach2 An inbound Blue Line at Beachmont station passing the outbound train shown above. 10/2009
beacxh3 A closer look at the front of the new 0700 car at Beachmont heading to downtown Boston on a sunny October day in 2009.
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Outbound to Wonderland, a set of six 0700 Blue Line cars approach the Orient stop. The shops and yard for the Blue Line are located at this station as well as where the Blue Line crews report for their assignments.

orient2 An inbound Blue Line train gets ready to stop to pick up passengers at the Orient station.
Wood Island Station 2009 - compare with the 2008 views below
wood20091 Inbound 0700 cars approach Wood Island station on a sunny October, 2009 afternoon.
wood20092 A closer view of the same train shown above.
wood20093 An outbound Blue Line approaches the Wood Island stop while passing an inbound train
wood20094 Another outbound Blue Line train coming up a mild grade approaching the Wood Island station - with headlights on.
wood20096 Leaving Wood Island this outbound Blue Line heads to its next stop: Logan Airport where it will swap the overhead for third rail running.
wood20097 A final view of the same train with almost the same view as the final view of the 0600 car taken a year before.

Wood Island Station is the first station north of the Airport on the Blue Line - 2008

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A southbound Blue Line train rounds the curve approaching Wood Island Station

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A closer look of the front of the Blue Line 0600 class car at Wood Island

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The train now enters the station on the south bound track on its way to downtown Boston with passengers getting ready to board the train.

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Now the train is getting ready to leave as the last passengers leave the cars.

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After going under a bridge and climbing a short hill a northbound Blue Line train approaches the Wood Island Station.

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Outbound Blue Line leaves Wood Island Station heading towards Wonderland Terminal

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A final view of the outbound Blue Line Train and a final view of a 0600 as well.

The State St Station connects with the nearby Orange Line and is being remodeled.

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An inbound Blue Line train sits at the State St. station before it gets ready to go around the curve and head towards its next station. The State Street stop is an important link with the Orange Line and was currently being rebuilt at the time this picture was taken.
subshot An outbound Bluie Line shown at the Aquarium station in the subway. Note the detail of the car and coincidentally the number - 0740 seen at the Wonderland station in 2008.
0700interior The interior of one of the new 0700 cars. Notice the overhead sign to announce and show stations and destinations.

 

 

 

 

Blue Line Fleet 116 cars**

Series

Car type

Built By

Electrical

Year Built

Width

Length

Seats

Cars Active

Cars Out of Service

0600-0669

#4 East Boston

Hawker-Siddeley

GE

1978-80

111”

48’06”

42

0

0

0700-0793

#5 East Boston

Siemens

Siemens

2007/2008

111”

48’06”

35

94

0

 

 

Blue Line Active Fleet (116 cars, operated in married pairs 20 #4 cars and 94 #5 cars ):

0600/0601 through 0618/0619 in official standby service until 2012 due to original leasing and depreciating agreements. 0618/0619 is out of service.

All Class 5 0700 series cars were completed in May, 2009.

0622/0623 was sold and delivered to Seashore Trolley Museum at Kennebunk, Maine in December, 2009.

 

Sold for scrap November 2008-February 2009

30 #4 cars: 0620/0621, 0624/0627, 0628/0629, 0630/0631, 0634/0635, 0638/0639, 0644/0645, 0648/0649, 0650/0651, 0656/0657, 0658/0659, 0660/0661, 0662/0663, 0664/0665, 0666/0667

 

The MBTA has contracted with McConnell Enterprises to scrap 50 0600 #4 cars (0618 through 0621, and 0624 through 0669) between November 2008 and March 2009. 22 cars will be scrapped in November 2008, 8 in January 2009, and 20 in March 2009.

The remaining 20 #4 cars (0600-0617 and 0622/0623) will be retained through at least 2012. This has changed with the aforementioned 0622/0623 being sold to Seashore Trolley Museum and 0618/0619 still on the property but not in service. Class 4 cars have not been in service though 0622/0623 were sent to Hornell, NY for possible evaluation for service on the Orange Line but the Authority deemed the project as not feasible. Thus those two cars were the best of the class 4 fleet which is why Seashore Trolley Museum selected them.

#4 and #5 cars can only train line within their own group and are not operated in revenue trains together

** This is list is current as of 2/2010. The remainder of the 0600 cars other than the 20 mentioned are off the property and scrapped or will be scapped.

 

 

 

links to other pages
core

Blue Line Expansion plans.

 

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last updated 22-nov-14 23:55