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The "D" Branch, also called the Highland Branch or Riverside Branch, is a branch of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line in the Boston, Massachusetts area, along which light rail vehicles run. The majority of the line is a grade-separated right-of-way formerly used by the Highland Branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad. Just west of Kenmore, the two-track line goes underground via the Fenway Incline, merging with the "B" and "C" Branches at Kenmore. From there, "D" trains continue through the Boylston Street Subway and Tremont Street Subway (merging with the "E" Branch along the way), with regular service turning around at Government Center as of 2016.
The "D" Branch is the most recent right-of-way to see light rail service in the Boston area, opening in 1959. The Newton Centre and Newton Highlands stations still feature classic station houses from the early 20th century. The Newton Centre station was renovated into shops in the 1980s, but the Newton Highlands station is not actively used.
Parts of the line are scheduled to be shut down during summer 2007 and replaced by bus service. From June 21 to July 31, the portion of line from Riverside to Reservoir will be closed for reconstruction. The Reservoir to Fenway stretch will be closed from Aug. 6 to Sept. 2, and the entire branch will be closed Aug. 4 and 5. During the closure the MBTA will replace bridges along the line, renovate stations to make them more accessible, and upgrade the track to enable higher speeds and allow the use of the low-floor Type 8 trolleys in revenue service.
In short, opening dates for the different sections were:
- 1847 Kenmore - Brookline Village
- Summer 1852 Brookline Village - Cook Street Junction
- 1886 Cook Street Junction - Riverside
Boston and Albany Railroad service ended on May 31, 1958, and MBTA operations began July 4, 1959.
The earliest part of the line to be built was the Brookline Branch of the Boston and Worcester Railroad, which opened in 1847. It stretched 1.55 miles (2.50 km) from the B&W main line south of Kenmore Square southwest to the current location of Brookline Village station. The B&W became part of the Boston and Albany Railroad in 1867.
Next came the Charles River Branch Railroad, opened Summer 1852 from the end of the Brookline Branch to Newton Upper Falls. The line was at first operated by the Boston and Worcester, but in 1856 it was merged into the New York and Boston Railroad (having been merged with the Charles River Railroad in 1853), a company intending to build a new route between Boston and New York City in competition with the Boston and New York Central Railroad. Both of these companies passed through several changes in name and ownership before they merged in 1868 to form the Boston, Hartford and Erie Railroad. The BH&E became the New York and New England Railroad in 1873 and the New England Railroad in 1895 before being leased by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in 1898.
In 1884, the Boston and Albany Railroad built a connecting line from Riverside on their main line southeast to what became Cook Street Junction on the NY&NE in Newton Highlands. The NY&NE had been sold to the B&A in 1882 north of the junction, giving the B&A full ownership of their Highland Branch. The B&A instituted loop service ("Newton Circuit"), going one way to Riverside on the main line and the other way on the Highland Branch; the NY&NE continued to use the branch as well.
In 1906 the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad built a new cutoff from Needham Junction east to their Dedham Branch at West Roxbury, and began routing NY&NE trains that way. However, in 1911, they too began running loop service on the "Needham Circuit", running one way on the old Boston and Providence Railroad to West Roxbury and the other way on the B&A Highland Branch.
NYNH&H service through Newton stopped in 1925, and the last B&A train ran over the Highland Branch on May 31, 1958. The east end was connected via the new Fenway Incline to the existing Boylston Street Subway at Kenmore, and streetcar operations began July 4, 1959 (at first by the Metropolitan Transit Authority until the MBTA took over in 1964). Service ran to Riverside, a bit south of the old turnback onto the main line towards Boston. No passenger connection has been provided to the old main line there, now the MBTA Commuter Rail Framingham/Worcester Line, and the nearest commuter rail station is in Auburndale, about half a mile away. Passenger service to the Riverside station on that line was ended in the 1970s, although a pedestrian underpass and platform still exist in very poor condition. The track from the D line to the Boston and Albany main were severed and overgrown until, to facilitate the delivery of new light rail vehicles in the 1990s, they were rebuilt and have since been maintained, although they are not used for any regular service. Special commuter rail trains did run to South Station from a temporary platform near the Riverside station from October 23-25, 1996, after extensive flooding in the Boston area forced much of the underground portion of the Green Line to shut down.
The MBTA takes overEdit
The first operating pattern was for Highland Branch streetcars to turn around at Park Street. At first, some trains operated on short-turn service, turning around at Reservoir via a grade-separated turnaround loop. Ridership to Riverside was higher than expected and thus the short-turn trains were discontinued.
By August 1964, when the MBTA took over, service on the branch (numbered 4) was extended on all days but Sundays to Lechmere. Sunday service was extended September 10, 1966.
Letters were assigned in 1967, and the 4 Riverside-Lechmere became the D Riverside.
The following changes in eastern terminal have been made:
- March 25, 1974: cut back from Lechmere to North Station (swapped with "B" Branch)
- June 26, 1976: cut back to Government Center due to construction at North Station
- September 11, 1976: extended to North Station
The MBTA's first Boeing light rail vehicles operated on the "D" Branch on December 30, 1976, and turned around at Park Street or Government Center due to the North Station loop not being wired for LRVs.
- January 1, 1977: extended to Lechmere weekdays, cut back to Government Center weekends
- March 19, 1977: cut back to Government Center always
- June 18, 1977: extended to Lechmere
- September 9, 1977: cut back to Government Center
- December 15, 1977: extended to the reconfigured North Station; any PCC cars were looped at Government Center
The last "D" PCC cars ran March 23, 1978, except during later LRV shortages.
- March 21, 1980: extended to Lechmere
- June 21, 1980: cut back to North Station
- April 4, 1981: extended to Lechmere
- January 2, 1983: cut back to Government Center rush hours and middays
- March 26, 1983: extended to Lechmere rush hours, midday and some rush hour "D" trains continue to loop at Government Center
- January 20, 1984 to shortly after: cut back to Government Center rush hours due to North Station on the Commuter Rail being closed due to a bridge fire, and all rush hour Lechmere service being provided by a shuttle to Government Center
- June 20, 1987: cut back to Government Center always
- March 28, 1997: extended to Lechmere weekends, due to North Station turnback facility being permanently closed
- June 21, 1997: extended to Lechmere always
- June 28, 2004: cut back to Government Center, due to the line north of North Station being closed
- November 12, 2005: Lechmere viaduct reopens, however D line service is not re-extended.
- March 22, 2014: Extended to North Station during midday and evenings on weekdays and all day on weekends. Operates only to Park Street during rush hours and peak times.
- March 22, 2016: reverts to Government Center with reopening of Government Center station
- Timeline of the extent of "D" service
|Station||Location||Time to Park Street||Opened||Transfers and notes|
|Fenway||near The Fenway, Boston, by Landmark Center (the old Sears building)||16 minutes||July 4, 1959||Formerly Fenway Park|
The only station added by the MTA
Buses: CT2, 29
|Longwood||Chapel and Longwood Streets, Brookline
Recommended stop for medical district, walk across Muddy River.
|July 4, 1959|
|Brookline Village||off Harvard and Washington Streets, and Route 9, Brookline
within easy walking distance of the Green Line "E" Branch's Riverway station
|July 4, 1959||Was Brookline as a B&A station|
|Brookline Hills||Cypress and Tappan Streets, Brookline, by the Brookline High School
|July 4, 1959|
|Beaconsfield||Dean Road and Beaconsfield Road, Brookline
20 second walk from Dean Rd. on the Green Line "C" Branch
|25 minutes||July 4, 1959|
|Reservoir||Cleveland Circle, Brookline, named for the Chestnut Hill Reservoir||27 minutes||July 4, 1959||within easy walking distance of the B branch's Chestnut Hill Avenue station and the C branch's Cleveland Circle station; transfer to Boston College shuttle bus (Sept-May)
Buses: 86, 51
|Chestnut Hill||Hammond Street near Middlesex Road and Route 9, Newton||July 4, 1959||within walking distance of Boston College|
|Newton Centre||Newton Centre, Newton, near Beacon and Centre Streets||July 4, 1959|
|Newton Highlands||Lincoln and Walnut Streets, Newton||July 4, 1959|
|Cook Street Junction||Not a station|
|Eliot||Route 9, Lincoln Street and Meredith Avenue, Newton||37 minutes||July 4, 1959|
|Waban||Beacon Street at Waban Square, Newton||July 4, 1959|
|Woodland||Washington Street, Newton, serving the Newton-Wellesley Hospital||July 4, 1959|
|Riverside||Grove Street, Newton, exit 22 off I-95, named for the Charles River||44 minutes||July 4, 1959||Was originally further north, at the junction with the B&A main line (MBTA Commuter Rail Framingham/Worcester Line)|
- MBTA.com - Green Line "D" Branch station listing & street map
- History of Newton Highlands - Includes photos of old railway stations
- Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district (PDF)
- History of the Railways of Massachusetts
- Ronald Dale Karr (1994) The Rail Lines of Southern New England: A Handbook of Railroad History. Branch Line Press. ISBN 0-942147-02-2
- Kenneth W. Newcomb, The Makers of the Mold
- Railroad History Database
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