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"Indigo Line"

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MBTA eyes upgrade for Dorchester rail line

By Ron DePasquale, Globe Correspondent, 3/7/2004

The housing developments are already going up on city-owned land in some of Dorchester's most blighted spots. The MBTA already has a rail line running along them.

The only problem is getting the trains to stop.

With about 400 apartments going up on parcels that lie along the Fairmount line in Dorchester, hopes are running high that the buildings can spur more development and take cars off the roads.

The Fairmount line, however, has only two stops in Dorchester. The MBTA is searching for money to turn its least-used commuter rail line into something more like a rapid transit line, by increasing service, adding four new stops, and putting the line on the MBTA map.

The new housing developments are transforming tracts of vacant land that have long been eye-sores, said Sheila Dillon, of the city's Department of Neighborhood Development. The properties were seized by the city from owners who did not pay taxes. About $100 million in public and private money is going into the developments.

"We have a housing problem, and we need to develop more affordable housing, so we started with that," Dillon said. "But the upgrading of the line and new stops would be very important for the new developments, because we need to do more transit-oriented housing."

About 100 apartments have been built along the line, and about 150 more are slated to be completed by the end of the year, with the rest scheduled for 2005.

In addition to improving the Uphams Corner and Morton Street stops, the T is proposing new stops at Talbot Avenue, Columbia Road, Four Corners, and South Bay, all of which it projects would add 4,600 new riders a day.

Development proponents see the new housing along the Fairmount line, which runs from Hyde Park to South Station, as an opportunity to both revitalize Dorchester's struggling neighborhoods and press harder for the creation of what's been called the Indigo line.

"It's not well known and doesn't function the way we'd like it to," said Colin Riley, director of the Uphams Corner Main Streets development agency. "We're looking for more frequent service, more visibility, more connectivity."

On a cold day in Uphams Corner, Gloria Boston waited for the bus and spoke approvingly of the proposed Indigo line.

"It would improve the neighborhood," she said. "It would be convenient to just get on the train and go downtown. That would be better than waiting for the bus outside and transferring and waiting again, which leaves you pretty cold."

The costliest development, at $17 million, is Trinity Terrace, a grouping of 13 buildings and 62 apartments at Washington and Norwell streets in the Four Corners neighborhood. Trinity Financial began construction on the project last July, and the buildings are expected to be finished sometime this summer.

The MBTA has budgeted $35 million to improve the two existing stations, which it acknowledges do not stand out as rail stations.

The T hopes the state will match its investment, which will also go toward bridge work, for the expansion phase of the project, said Dennis DiZoglio, the T's assistant general manager for planning and real estate.

The Romney administration is seeking ways to help fund the project, but has not committed a dollar amount, said John Carlisle, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

From The Boston Globe

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Is improving this line a good idea? Let me count the ways....

This area is the largest uninterupted residential area of the city. As the article states people are building housing for the first time in some areas since the 60's.

The Fairmont is halfway between the crowded Red and Orange lines. In Uphams Corners the station is one of the most blighted parts of the area. When you turn off Columbia Road onto Dudley Street the area is vacant all around the pathetic little stop that people are afraid to use. At Morton the station leaves you exposed to the elements which is only half as bad as being exposed to criminal gangs hanging out around the abandoned supermarket next door.

South Bay will get service to a huge new shopping area and will give T access to employees of all the meat packing and industry in that area as well as improve large tracts of developable land.

Next time I'm in the area I will get a pics of a few of these stops to illistrate the point.

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This project would upgrade service on the Fairmount commuter rail line by adding new stations on the existing route and by increasing the frequency of service.

Capital Features

Up to five new stations would be built in Boston neighborhoods, interspersed with existing stations. Approximate locations under consideration include Blue Hill Avenue near Mattapan Square, Talbot Avenue, Washington Street and Columbia Road in Dorchester, and Newmarket Square in Roxbury. Route length would not change. Some additional rolling stock would be needed to increase peak service frequency.

Capital Cost $70.0 million (MBTA Planning Dept. estimate)

Operating Cost $2,800 per weekday

Daily Ridership Increase on Mode 6,500

Net Increase in Daily Transit Ridership 220

Capital Cost per New Transit Rider $318,180

Operating Cost per Wkday/New Transit Rider $12.70

Capital Cost/Travel Time Benefit $158,000 per hour

Operating Cost/Travel Time Benefit $6.30 per hour

Travel Time Savings 443 hours per weekday


Overall, this project is rated high priority. It would provide direct rail service to the Financial and Waterfront districts from sections of Dorchester now served by feeder buses to rapid transit lines. The number of riders served would be among the largest of any of the commuter rail expansion projects examined for the PMT, but the majority of them would be diverted from other transit services. Consequently, the capital cost per new transit rider would be among the highest of any commuter rail project, but the capital cost per hour of travel time saving would be among the lowest. There would be little benefit to air quality, because few auto trips would be eliminated. The project is rated high in economic and land-use impacts. All of the existing and proposed new station sites are located in state-designated revitalization areas. Local plans call for high-density residential development near these sites, along with new commercial or industrial development. Most of the stations would be in environmental justice target neighborhoods, and most of the new ones would serve areas that are not currently served directly by rail transit lines to downtown Boston. It is the only commuter rail project with a high rating for service quality, because of its contributions to passenger safety and security, comfort and convenience, and reductions of transfers.

From Boston Metropolitan Planning Organization

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Fairmount Commuter Rail Line Improvements


White=Current Stations | Black=Future Stations | Grey = Optional Stations

Project Description

The Fairmount commuter rail line is approximately 9.2 miles long, running from South Station to Readville. It passes through the communities of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, serving three intermediate stations. Despite the density of the surrounding communities and lack of nearby rapid transit lines, the line is currently underutilized and the frequency of service is low. Additionally, much of the infrastructure is in a state of disrepair, and station amenities are primitive and do not meet ADA regulations. The improvement project would upgrade the existing Uphams Corner and Morton Street Stations, with the possibility of constructing up to four new stations at Newmarket, Four Corners, Talbot Avenue and Blue Hill Avenue. An alternative site for the Four Corners station, located at Geneva Avenue, is also being studied. Additionally, six bridges would be reconstructed, a new interlocking would be built, and the signal system would be upgraded.

The proposed upgrades at Uphams Corner and Morton Street would replace the existing low-level platforms with new 800-foot long high-level platforms. Both stations would also feature paved parking lots with drop-off areas. To ensure passenger safety, at Morton Street station, a new steel stairway and two new ramps would be constructed, connecting the Morton Street sidewalks directly to the platforms below. At Uphams Corner, the existing granite stairways would be retained, and new ramps would be built. Platforms at all stations would include detectable warning strips, new canopies, benches, signs, a train warning system, LED message signs, and lighting. All stations would also feature accessible routes to existing sidewalks.

Renderings and drawings were provided by Edwards and Kelcey.

Newmarket Station


Newmarket Conceptual Site Plan

Columbia Road Station

Columbia Road Conceptual Site Plan

Uphams Corner Station


Uphams Corner Conceptual Site Plan

Four Corners Station

Four Corners Conceptual Site Plan

Talbot Avenue Station


Talbot Avenue Conceptual Site Plan

Morton Street Station


Morton Street Conceptual Site Plan

Blue Hill Avenue Station


Blue Hill Avenue Conceptual Site Plan

Fairmount Line Feasability Study

From MBTA.com

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This should be electrified and made into a heavy rail/subway line. It would be easy to connect it into the Red Line by the Broadway Station but the Red Line already has two southern branches: Braintree & Ashmont.

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It really needs to stay open for frieght movements, and Amtrak movements, and to relieve commuter rail traffic through the Southwest Corridor. It also needs to remain open to divert trains if there were an emergency situation on the Southwest Corridor, accident, natural disaster, terrorism, or just a disabled train. I think the best we can hope for is DMUs or EMUs to run at rapid intervals allowing room for all the movements that need to be made. At the South Station end the DMUs/EMUs could be diverted to a special platform, maybe even an underground platform, that would allow for good connections to the red and silver lines.

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The MBTA plans two community meetings this week on the Indigo Line, the proposed name of the project to revamp the Fairmount commuter rail line, which runs along one of the city's most transit-dependent corridors.

The first meeting will be held 6 to 8 p.m. March 29 at the Alexander Magnolia Coop Center, 36 Alexander St., Dorchester, and will focus on the Uphams Corner Station project.

The second meeting will be from 6 to 8 p.m. March 30 at the Anthony D. Perkins Community Center, 155 Talbot Ave., Dorchester, and will focus on construction in the Harvard and Greenwood streets area.

From: Boston.com

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Inside the dense city, why is a heavy rail service being used? Heavy rail to me is for commuter rail from the suburbs.

This line should either be transformed to include a new light rail line (Indigo?) or should become a new branch of the Red line.

This part of Boston has been without light rail subway for too long.

The heavy rail infrastructure of the current Fairmount line should be kept and used for freight, Franklin line bypass, etc.

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I consider heavy rail to be subway-type trains like the Red, Orange and Blue lines as well as commuter rail. Basically heavy rail trains are the kind that can't be run safely down the middle of a regular street. (Can you imagine a Red Line train running down the middle of Mass Ave? Or a commuter rail train on Comm Ave?) Light rail trains are those that don't require (or really need) high platforms. They are smaller and closer to the ground so they can be run safely in streets and take up less space. But they can't hold as many people as subway or commuter trains.

That said, I think the best choice for the Fairmount or "Indigo" Line (c'mon, isn't there another we can use, like Yellow or Brown?) would be DMU's (or EMU's if the line is electrified) with high platforms for fast boarding and excellent ADA-access. Plus, DMU's and EMU's can be made FRA-complatible (The Colorado Railcar Co. has such a DMU) so they can safely be run on the same tracks with the T's existing CR trains, freight or Amtrak (if the line is electrified). This project should be high on the list, right up there with Lynn and Medford/Somerville.

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My mistake.

Light rail to me was just any sort of subway. Then I guess the Green line and the trolleys in Mattapan are the only light rail in Boston.

Just make it subway, as I've said before.

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Along underused Fairmount line, hope is back on track

June 5, 2005

Advocates for a revamped Fairmount rail line through Dorchester, Mattapan, and Hyde Park say they are heartened by the state's recent commitment to the project.


On May 18, officials in Governor Mitt Romney's administration pledged $100 million for four new stations and other improvements to the line, which runs from South Station to Readville, through some of Boston's poorer neighborhoods.

For several years, community groups have been calling for major upgrades to the underused line. Activists want more stations and more frequent service, as well as direct connections to the rapid transit system.


Rivera said residents of many neighborhoods along the Fairmount corridor now rely on buses to get downtown. ''This is a huge problem," he said. ''Compare it to Brookline. You have three lines going through there. Why can't people in these neighborhoods have this service?"


The location of the new stations on the lines also has not been determined. Rivera said possible new stops would be at Four Corners, Newmarket, Talbot Avenue, and Columbia Road in Dorchester, and Mattapan Square and Cummins Highway in Mattapan.


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