The Green Line

The "E" Line

The "E" Branch also known as the Arborway branch has roots that go back to 1859 built along Huntington Avenue from Brigham Circle west to Brookline as part of a branch from the original Jamaica Plain route.  Around 1883 a cutoff was built via Huntington Avenue to allow the cars to run into Park Square via existing tracks on Boylston.  The Huntington Avenue Line was electrified in 1894 with the streetcars likely moved to the new subway around the beginning of October, 1897.  From that point on there is again a rather complex history of the predecessors to the "E" Branch. 

The Huntington Avenue Subway opened on 16 February 1941 allowing the Huntington Avenue cars to use the Boylston Street Portal underground for a larger part of the route.  The last two remaining lines, numbers 39 and 57 were redesignated as the "E" Branch by the MBTA in 1967.  Over the years, due to shortages in cars particularly with the opening of the popular "D" Branch, sections of the line were replaced by bus service.  The route number was always 39  When that happened the 39 would run to the Copley station with free transfers.  The branch presently enters the Boylston subway with a same grade crossing near the Copley station. 

From 1961 to the present the "E" branch, as in other Green Line branches has gone through a number of changes.  While most of the changes dealt with the eastern terminal there were also some important changes at the other end.  During this time Arborway was the southern terminal with "Short" runs going as far as Heath Street.  On 28 December 1985 Arborway cars were "temporarily" replaced by the 39 bus and short turn cars also replaced for track reconstruction.   As of this writing service has not been restored to Arborway despite binding agreements entered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over the years to restore service. 

In 2000, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation and Construction entered into an Administrative Consent Order  agreeing to additional legal commitments as environmental mitigation for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project and clarifying deadlines for the existing ones.  The tracks remain unpaved over though the overhead has long since been removed.  MBTA has had numerous excuses as to why these orders have not been carried out despite the fact that many residents in the area are actively pursuing the return of rail service.   It should also be pointed out that of the branches of the Green Line this is the only segment that still has revenue service in the street rather than on a private right of way or median.  It is for that reason alone that MBTA has voiced objections. 

The northern terminal has also changed during the years.  Service to the present Lechmere Terminal became permanent on 20 June 1987.  Service was cut back to North Station during the work on the Charles River Bridge which included eliminating the draw bridge over the river with a fixed span.  As part of this work connected with the "Big Dig" there was considerable construction at the North Station.  Prior to that time the tracks were elevated.  After the project was completed the new station was underground with a direct connection to the Orange Line.  As a result service was cut back to the new North Station during construction of the new tunnel connecting to the Charles River bridge. That project was completed on 12 November 2005 when service resumed to Lechmere. 

At the present time the "E" branch is the only line that offers regular service to Lechmere.  Future plans may include an extension at Lechmere to Somerville and eventually to Tufts University and Medford.   There is a tentative completion date of 2014 though at this time that may also be flexible up to 2020 due to budgetary problems.  The exact details of the extension is not known nor the route structure as to whether this will be an extension of present service or a new line altogether.  That, plus additional LRV's will have to be ordered to cover the new service. For additional details please click on the above link which has up to date progress and plannong on the extension. It also shows proposed side elevations of most of the stations planned including the Lechmere replacement which will be built east of the soon to be abandoned facilities.


It was a misty day at Lechmere.  The webmaster had traveled out to Riverside.  Upon returning to Boston he departed from the subway to visit MBTA's fabulous Transportation Library located in their building at10 Park Place Plaza.  After that pictures were taken at the historical Boston Commons along with some pictures of the Silver Lines BRT buses on Tremont.  At the Boylston station are two historic streetcars; a Class 5 conventional trolley and a Pullman built picture window PCC car.  Both cars have been lovingly restored.  After spending a few minutes talking to one of the supervisors I caught an "E" Branch train for Lechmere. 

The Lechmere terminal looks much the same as it did when streetcars ran other than wiring changes and fare collection turnstiles.   There is a modest storage yard where both Class 7 and 8 cars are stored.  To go from one side to the other a walk is required to the underpass.  Lechmere is also intermodal with regular bus service connecting with the LRV's. 

The second part, taken in late September, 2008 shows the other end of the "E Line" at the Heath Terminal. This is a simple two track loop with the inner most track being used for regular service. There is a simple shelter. Because of the layout of the loop the left hand doors must be used. As for the 39 bus route that service not only still exists but uses at times articulated buses. Like the Lechmere Terminal pictures taken in 2007 it was also a damp and rainy day that led to some photographic effects that highlighted the shots. Other than the 39 the Heath terminal is not a true intermodal facility.

The third visit in October, 2009 brought more photos of the E line including several taken from the balcony of the 14th floor at a friend's on Huntington and Lockwood. Included are shots along Huntington as well as in the area of North Station and the Charles River Viaduct.


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Lechmere Terminal


An E branch train waits at Lechmere Terminal to pick up passengers.                                          


 In the meantime MBTA -0687 waits to pick up passengers at Lechmere.                                      


A class 7 car in original colors is behind a class 8 at Lechmere - check who designed the c ar.  


A close up of the front of Breda class 8 3860 at Lechmere.                                                        


Another view of 3860 birthed on the outbound platform at Lechmere.                                      


A view of the rear of class 7 3699 waiting to leave Lechmere on the "E" branch.                      . 


A passenger waits for the next "E" Branch train to take him to downtown Boston.                     


A sequence set of shots showing inbound 3868 coming off the Charles Bridge.                          


As it enters the curve leading into the Lechmere Terminal of the "E" Branch.                             


A front view of 3868 - same car seen on the C branch before near Dean ........                        


3868 enters the final curve before it enters Lechmere Terminal                                                  


It's a misty day in Boston as the "E" Branch train goes into the Lechmere Terminal.                 


Huntington Ave.
An ovehead view of two Green Line E cars passing each other on Huntington and Lockwood at the Lockwood stop. hunt1
Car 3836 leads a two car train crossing Lockwood at Huntington Ave, hunt2
Class 7 3717 approaches the Lockwood stop on Huntington heading towards downtown Boston. hunt3
Outbound E Line car 3701 approaches the Lockwood stop along Huntington. hunt4
Going towards downtown Boston car 3700 brings up the rear of a Green Line E train near Huntington and Lockwood. hunt4
Outbound car 3871 prepares to pick up passengers at the Art Museum stop on Huntington. artm1
Scenes showing trackage coming out of North Station from Big Dig and crossing the Charles River by the Science Museum.  
Car 3832 climbs up the grade from North Statoin on a newer part of the E Line. This section was rebuilt due to Big Dig. Prior to that the Green Line was an elevated structure in front of North Station. nort1
Second shot of the sequence. The operator seems to be leaning with the curve! noth4
Now approaching the Science Museum stop this outbound train will then head across the long Charles River Viaduct and terminate at Lechmere. norths3
Car 3700 leads is train across the Charles River Viaduct. To the left is the Science Museum whose stop is ahead of the train. nbridge
Heath Terminal
Car 3601 leads a two car train ready to leave Heath on the "E" line 3601 lv heath1
A close up of Class 7 3601 leaving the Heath terminal. Notice the streetcar like front. 3601closeup
Class 3813 on street leaving Heath Terminal on th e"E" Line 3813 lv heath
Class 7 class car 3600 approaches Heath Terminal on a rainy Boston day 3000 approaching Heath
The wet pavemnt at Heath further highlights the photo of car 3000 3000heath















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last update 23 November, 2014 0:37

Information obtained in part from Wikipedia and publications by the BSRA.

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