• MBTA Boston-Concord Service: 1980-1981

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: CRail, sery2831

  by theseaandalifesaver
 
Is it true that the MBTA once ran to NH?

If this is true, could someone answer the following questions for me?

What current rail line did the MBTA use? I'm assuming either Haverhill or Lowell. Seeing that those are the only two north-side lines that continue further North.

What towns/cities did the train serve?

Are there any signs of the stations still? I know that there's still very little of the Gardner, MA station. And that the big "T" sign was only taken down fairly recently.

Thanks!
  by cpf354
 
Yes. Boston to Concord, NH, via Lowell, circa 1980. Don't know about stops or stations but there's a good chance it stopped in Nashua and Manchester. It was a federally funded pilot program, and it ended when the money stopped.
  by ST214
 
All that's left is a strip of asphalt that was the platform....there's a MART garage there now.
theseaandalifesaver wrote:I know that there's still very little of the Gardner, MA station. And that the big "T" sign was only taken down fairly recently.

Thanks!
  by TomNelligan
 
The Boston-Concord service restoration lasted from January 1980 to February 1981. The service patterns was a morning train southbound, a midday round trip (which was covered at one point by a British Leyland railbus that was over here on demo), and an evening train northbound. As Mr. Cpf has noted, it was funded by a Federal grant, which was well-timed with respect to the 1980 New Hampshire presidential primary. But when that one-year grant ran out, New Hampshire declined to pick up the tab and passenger service north of Lowell once again ceased. Stops north of Lowell were Nashua, Merrimack, Manchester, and Concord. The "stations" at the first three were just paved platforms, and at Concord the train used the former 1950s-era B&M station that had become the bus depot.
  by ThinkNarrow
 
A friend and I rode the evening train to Concord by both driving there, leaving one car there and taking the other car to Lowell to board the train there. Ridership to Nashua was pretty good. Ridership to Manchester was so-so, and ridership to Concord was almost nil.

-John
  by djlong
 
One interesting note about that service.

Originally, it was just going to have stops in Nashua, Manchester and Concord. However, the citizens of Merrimack (just north of Nashua) actually picketed the line demanding a stop in their town. It was effective enough to get a simple asphalt slab laid down to make the stop in Merrimack.

Compare this to the reaction of towns along the Greenbush line in the 1990s. You would have thought that the Four Horseman of The Apocalypse were driving each train to/from the South Shore.
  by Otto Vondrak
 
Was there a regular timetable for this service? Was it operated as part of the Lowell Line?

Was there even a "Lowell Line?"

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanshnooke ... /346211745

-otto-
  by B&Mguy
 
There was indeed a schedule for this service. I found an old timetable a few years ago at a show. It was on the Lowell line schedule since it was an extension of this service. It was a standard MBTA Commuter Rail schedule from 1980, with the purple color scheme. I’m not sure how they did it when the service became the railbus shuttle though.

I’ve always wondered why the switched from full train sets to the railbus. Does anyone know?
  by Philip Wirth
 
It was probably awfully confusing to some people to have two stations named "Concord."
  by madcrow
 
One unreliable rumor I've also heard something about there having been plans to restart the service (again) a few years later, but Guilford blocking the T from running trains over the trackage it still owned (aka everything north of Lowell) due to the same hatred of all things "passenger" that led them to not even try and bid for contract renewal in '86.
  by TomNelligan
 
GP40MC 1116 wrote:This may answer some of your question's.

http://www.nashuacitystation.com/?article=commuterrail
Good article, except that the startup date is wrong. As I wrote above, the service ran from January 1980 until February 1981. I witnessed the inaugural run on January 28, 1980 and you can find my photos in the March 1980 issue of Passenger Train Journal. The service ended fairly abruptly on February 28, 1981 when the money ran out.
madcrow wrote:One unreliable rumor I've also heard something about there having been plans to restart the service (again) a few years later, but Guilford blocking the T from running trains over the trackage it still owned


There was never any serious funding in place for a second restoration in the 1980s.
  by cpf354
 
In the revisionist history department, I observe that a comment was made about Guilford's 1986 loss of the commuter rail operating contract, with the implication that it was becasue they "hated passenger trains". While I don't know the entire story, my recollection was that the T refused to renew with Guilford becasue of disruptions to commuter service caused the strikes at the time. In other words, it wasn't Guilford's idea. Didn't they express interest in getting the contract back when Amtrak's was up? As for not wanting passenger trains on their own routes, they don't want the liability.
  by MBTA3247
 
cpf354 wrote:Didn't they express interest in getting the contract back when Amtrak's was up?
As I understand it, the T pretty much had to beg Guilford to submit a bid so they could maintain the illusion of competitive bidding, and the bid Guilford submitted was designed to be rejected.