• What do they do in West Cambridge?

  • 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: sery2831, CRail

  by WatertownCarBarn
I've wondered too. There used to be a Budd sitting there, which ended up on its side, for the longest time.
  by NaugyRR
Judging by the equipment around it, it looks like an MofW crew base, similar to the set up in North White Plains on Metro-North territory
  by caduceus
West Cambridge Maintenance Facility...storage for MOW equipment.
  by KB1KVD
West Cambridge Maintenace Facility (WCMF) is where various pieces of MoW equipment is repaired and stored. It's main shops for the engineering department work equipment fleet. There are smaller shops that are satellite shop to WCMF and they're in Abington, Readville, Worcester, Fitchburg and Salem.
  by CRail
WatertownCarBarn wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 1:46 pmThere used to be a Budd sitting there, which ended up on its side, for the longest time.
I believe there were 4 of them.
  by ceo
It was originally built as a temporary service and inspection facility while the old Boston Engine Terminal was torn down and the Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility was being built.
  by BostonUrbEx
West Cambridge is slated to be closed as part of the consolidation of ops to Iron Horse Park in North Billerica. The MOW operations slated to be moved up there include West Cambridge, the Yard 10 "T-Pad," and the Everett Jct/Saugus Branch ballast yard. Aside from consolidating MOW ops to a single location, these sites are in the way of some other projects. Yard 10 needs to be kept clear so that freights can freely pass through Yard 10 and into Yard 21 as part the GLX displacement of freight from Yard 8. The ballast yard is being vacated to allow an extension of the Northern Strand Communtiy Trail. And I can't remember what West Cambridge was all about. I know Cambridge wants to build a station there, but I don't think that was really the driving force, I think maybe they were going to sell the property for more redevelopment.
  by rethcir
That’s almost across the street from Alewife, doesn’t seem like it makes much sense to add a station there. Connectivity between the Fitchburg line and the Red Line already happens at Porter. This is one case where a pure housing development makes an awful lot of sense.
  by BandA
Didn't the Alewife garage fill up (pre-covid)? So maybe best-use is a giant garage? + giant bike storage for Minuteman commuters?

Instead of selling for development, lease for 25 years. I'm sure there will be a crying need 25 years from now.
  by Arborwayfan
A CR station at Alewife will mean one-seat rides to North Station. That would make it a little easier to get to parts of downtown Boston from Alewife than it is now. It may or may not be worth building the station now, but it's worth keeping enough land to build it on, especially if the rest of the yard became another set of apartments or condos. Some day the CR lines might run much more frequently, so might as well have a station in a potentially busy area.
  by Red Wing
I've always felt that if there is a subway station next to commuter rail tracks there should be a commuter rail station too. That way if there are issues or maintenance on either line people would have the option to get to where they need. I'm not saying have the commuter rail station open all the time just when there's a disruption.
  by octr202
As others have started to hint at, there's a massive amount of office/lab space around Alewife, and there's a lot of room for more development. There are huge areas, especially south of the railroad (north of Concord Ave) which could be redeveloped from one-story light industrial into higher density office and/or residential. Alewife is NOT a neighborhood like Porter Square right now, but if done right it may become one before long. (As an aside, there are plans, though I haven't looked at them recently, for a bike/ped bridge across the railroad to improve access to areas south of the railroad.)

An Alewife station on the Fitchburg would potentially generate three kinds of ridership - people who work in the station's catchment area, people who live in that area, and people using the Red Line connection to go elsewhere in Cambridge/Boston. Porter pretty much maxes out at two of those (with some university jobs north of Harvard Square spilling into the larger Porter catchment area).

If Alewife was added, there would be a need for some serious planning to determine if it would make a better "outer inner core" stop for long-range Fitchburg trains - i.e., the outer rapid transit connection where all trains stop, than Porter, or vice versa. Long run, if we move towards the Regional Rail model, one of them probably ends up as the major connection hub where trains from Wachusett/Fitchburg stop, or one served only by locals running shorter segments. Probably a good argument for Alewife if the area develops the way it's likely.

Also - there will be a need to completely rebuild the Alewife Station garage before too long - it's been said that current work is mainly to stop it from falling down. Perhaps one solution (assuming demand returns post-pandemic) is to build a substantial new structure as described above (on the Summer Shack site) which can take parking demand during reconstruction but also serve as a new connector between the Red Line and a future commuter rail station. The station needs better bus access as well (and could become a hub for significant bus service to the north and west with some minor bus priority improvements) which would open up a lot of potential transit connections as well.