The Green Line

The "D" Line

From commuter trains to light rail

The "D" Branch also known as either the Highlands Branch or Riverside Branch is both the newest and oldest line on the MBTA.  The background of the "D" branch goes back to 1847.  No, that is not a typo, that is when the original predecessor first ran from what is now Kenmore to Brooklyn Village.   Originally known as the Boston and Worcester Railroad it became part of the Boston and Albany Railroad in 1867.  From that point on the history itself is rather complicated with even the New Haven Railroad getting in the act until 1925.  In the meantime the railroad became a commuter heavy rail steam line running service from the 1800's until 31 May, 1958 when service was discontinued.  The then Massachusetts Transit Authority (MTA) purchased the line and added a connection to the then existing Boylston subway at Kenmore with the subway ramp located just east of Fenway Park's station.   Streetcar service commenced on 4 July 1959 under the auspices of the MTA. 

The original plan was to order new cars for the converted Riverside Line but the funds were lacking to do so.  Instead it was decided to terminate street car service on the Waverly and Watertown Square streetcar lines to have a sufficient fleet for the new rail line.  Part of the conversion to the Riverside line was the addition of an overhead headlight and horn to the PCC cars used in service on the line as mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

The heavy rail connection from Riverside to the Framingham/Worcester Line was all but severed between Riverside and that commuter line with the single track all but out of use until the first of the LRV's were delivered in the 1970's.  In the 1990's that single track was rebuilt and maintained though not for regular passenger service but as a connection to the outside world.  It did, however, play an important part during the heavy flooding during late October, 1996 when the subway at Kenmore was literally flooded from tracks to trolley wire from the Muddy River in a record breaking rain storm. 

In August, 1964 the MBTA took over.  The Riverside branch was then known as the "4" Line Riverside-Lechmere.  Once again as in the other branches the eastern terminal changed any number of times.  To help understand the changes a chart has been provided.

    courtesy Wikipedia.

Besides the eastern terminal changes the "D" branch has been subjected to a number of construction projects that have either shut portions of the line down or required rerouting.  For example from 23 June to 3 August 2007 the line was replaced by shuttle buses between Riverside and Reservoir for upgrading.  Likewise from 4 August through 31 August service was replaced by shuttle buses from Fenway to Reservoir for the same purposes.  The ultimate goal is to eventually be able to run the low floor, handicapped friendly Breda class 8 cars on the entire line at 50 mph.  During the track work the line was open on 4 July as well as having non-revenue service to the Riverside Shops.  Presently only the Class 7 cars can operate on this line.  The webmaster rode the line in October, 2007 and found in some places particularly over crossovers the ride was a little on the rough side.  As for the equipment the final PCC car ran on 23 March 1978 except during LRV (Boeing) shortages.  The first LRV ran on 30 December 1976 but had to turn around at Park Street or Government Center due to trackage north of the Government Center still not wired for LRV service.

Despite the track issues the Riverside Branch in many ways reminds one of an interurban.  The line is grade separated for the most part and features two of the original B&A stations.  One has shops while the other stands empty as of this writing.  They are Newton Center and Newton Highlands respectively.  The pictures taken at Waban are typical of the country like settings of the branch.  Were this not a light rail line in the Boston area one could almost imagine an interurban train such as the North Shore Line which ran between Chicago and Milwaukee speeding along the right of way.   As a bonus the branch surfaces at Fenway home of the World Champion Boston Red Sox at nearby Fenway Stadium. 

There are three sections of photographs here.  The first is a pleasant afternoon at the Waban station which is the second station east of the Riverside Terminal.  The old B&A station was torn down to put in the parking lot.  Such is progress!   The second set of pictures were taken mostly on a damp and rainy afternoon at the Riverside terminal.  The terminal itself is recent having been added recently.  The original was further north at the junction with the B&A main line.  Next to the station are the main shops of the Green Line and a large yard with a variety of equipment including what was left of the Boeing fleet.  Those cars are out of service and waiting disposition. Finally the third section shows historic Newton Center's station; one of two of the orginal B&A stations that remain photographed in 2008. Yes, Boston does have some sunny days! A third visit took place in October, 2009 at Newton Center. The weather was perfect as well as the Breda cars being put back in service after some track work was completed.

An Afternoon at Waban Stop on the Riverside Branch

To view each picture click on the thumbnail which will blow it up to full size. Simply use the back arrow to return to this page.


Outbound car 3642 leads a train into the scenic Waban stop on a nice October Day                   


  Outbound 3659 goes around the curve just east of the Waban stop                                          


3655 leads an inbound train at Waban.  The outbound train from above is in the backround   


Class 7 3605 on a test run at the Waban curve with 3659 in the background.                         


With the front door open inbound 3610 on the Riverside branch at Waban stop.                     


Two Class 7 cars with the rear car in the original paint scheme leave the Waban stop.            . 


Riverside Terminal and Yards

Riverside is the terminal of the "D" Branch of the Green Line. The original termianl was changed to the present station a few years ago. Riverside also hosts the main yards and service facilities for the Green Line cars. At the time of this visit there were still some of the remaining Boeing-Vertol cars parked in storage waiting to either be scrapped or shipped to various museums.


A view of the Riverside Yards showing retired Boeing LRV's waiting to be scrapped.                  


Another view of Riverside Yards this time showing all three classes of LRV's.                              


Car 3719 leads an inbound train into the Riverside Terminal                                                       


The Riverside Terminal at the end of the "D" Branch.                                                                  


Car 3606 enters the Riverside Terminal getting ready to board passengers.                              


Car 3640 enters Riverside Terminal heading back to downtown Boston.                                   


Inbound train at Riverside led by class 7 car 3640 ready to board passengers.                        


Inbound train at Riverside Terminal ready to leave for Boston.                                                      


A single car heading into Riverside from Boston still in its original green paint scheme.            


Car 3681 running solo at Riverside Terminal on a damp October afternoon.                             


A rear shot of 3681 heading back to the Riverside Yards.  A few class 7 cars are still green.     


An afternoon at the Hstioric Newton Center station on the Riverside Branch of the Green Line


Historical Newton Center Station. When the then MTA took over the B&A tracks they tore down most of the original stations on the once steam and diesel powered commuter line. Only two of the stations remained including the one at Newton Center. All though the original building has been remodeled and now has various shops occupying its interior much of the original appearcne still rmains. On this cloudy afternoon we can not only enjoy the station itself but the Riverside Branch of the Green Line cars servicing the busy locale. In October, 2009 on a subsequent trip it was sunny as well as the Breda cars running on the D Line after a long absense.

A view of the former Bostan and Albany commuter station now used by the Riverside Branch of the Green Line newcntrstat
Another view of the original Newton Center station and the addition. newcnt2
The orignal westbound platform at Newton Center station. neplatform
car 3652 leads an outbond Riverside train into the Newton Center station. Notice the original platform 3652newcntr
A passenger waits to board car 3691 at Newton Center heading towards Riverside. 3691newcnt
Commuters at Newton Center getting off a westbound train on a damp afternoon westnewpass
Westbound Riverside Green Line train pulls into Newton Center station 3633newcntr
An inbound Riverside train ducks under a few bridges as it approaches Newton Center. 3683ebnewcnt
Eastbound Riverside branch train stops to load passengers at Newton Center Station. 3636newcntr
Green Line 3662 in its green color scheme waits to leave towards downtown Boston at Newton Center.
Green Line 3645 at Newton Center Station with passengers boarding for downtown Boston. 3645newcntr

Car 3701 stopping at Newton Center station ready to head towards Riverside terminal.

Eastbound 3662 enters Newton Center ready to pick up more passengers. mbta3662new
The Class 8 Breda cars returned to the D Line giving it full ADA coverage. Car 3870 leads a two car train consisiting of 2 Bredas as it approaches the historic Newton Centre Station. new091
Car 3884 leads an outbound D Line train stopped at Newton Center to unload passegners. new092
In what appears to be an unusual move a single Class 8 car 3843 stops at Newton Centre on this crisp October afternoon. new3
Car 3839 is heading inbound after a stop at Newton Centre. Class 8 cars are usually, but not always the lead car. new0984
Class 7 3705 is at Newton Center picking up passengers before it heads to downtown Boston. new096
Compared to a similar 2008 shot above it is sunny allowing the historical Newton Centre station to shine. Built in 1890 the station has landmark status. new098
The Riverside Line runs close to Fenway Park, home of the 2007 World Series Champion Red Sox team. fendtown






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last update 23 November, 2014 0:23

Information obtained in part from Wikipedia

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