Todd's Railfan Guide to
Mattapan High Speed Line

 In General
Getting Here
Station by Station


In General

Some information from Larry Shaw:  The Ashmont–Mattapan “High Speed” Line or also known as the M-Line in Boston and Milton Massachusetts is considered to be part of the MBTA's Red Line, even though it uses different equipment (vintage streetcars) and passengers have to change at Ashmont.  It is the only MBTA line to run through a cemetery.  The line opened on August 26, 1929.  The term 'high speed line' is vestigial, as the route is neither characterized by a fully dedicated, grade separated right-of-way, nor by high-speed rolling stock.

The Ashmont–Mattapan Line follows the original right-of-way of the passenger and freight steam railway line that opened in December 1847 as the Dorchester and Milton Branch Railroad.  That line later became part of the Old Colony Railroad and then the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad after 1893.  The steam-powered trains were discontinued in 1927 and the line was closed for two years while it was being modified for streetcar service.  There was a debate at that time whether or not to continue the same subway trains from Boston to Ashmont and on to Mattapan without a need for passengers to switch to streetcars at Ashmont.  Apparently, the added cost of full-scale subway service along the remainder of the route was considered to be too high.  The right-of-way is owned by the MBTA and has only two at-grade crossings on its 2.6-mile route.

Gotta love them PCC cars!


The above map is available here as a PDF


Station by Station


Photo taken by Adam E. Moreira at the Ashmont station in 2005, from Wikipedia

Photo by Derek Yu, May 2008..... #3263 is headed to Ashmont.... also from Wikipedia


Red Line Shops

Although not part of the High Speed Line, if you're here, you might as well see if you can grab any pictures.....

Cedar Grove



Over the Neponset River

Central Ave

  Picture by John V. Engleman

Valley Rd

Capen St


The shops are also located here.  Back in Ashmont, there is an interchange with the Red Line Heavy Rail System.


All of the following pictures are courtesy John V. Engleman, the best and most knowledgeable transit fan I know!

Rear end shot of 3087.  Trolley catchers on all Boston PCCs were mounted above the rear windows to prevent riders and pole-snatchings. 
This began with the original car, 3001, a St. Louis car from the original Brooklyn PCC order.

Two cars on the ready track at Mattapan prior to evening rush hour. 
At peak times a maximum of six cars may be on the line, providing about 4 minute service.  Sundays only see two cars.

Car 3087 in the "shop".  This car is reported to be the best of the bunch.

Arriving at the new Ashmont Station.  This station is a very poor replacement for the old covered station. 
All these photos of the cars were taken before the new air conditioning units were added to the roof.
The Red Line subway cars can be seen on the tracks below.

Car 3087, the oldest of the bunch.  Built almost, if not, alongside 7407 at the Pullman plant in Worcester, Mass. in 1944.

This is where the cars are maintained at Mattapan for everything except major repairs.  Open ended building with a pit.  No heat, no A.C., no doors.  Having worked on the Baltimore LRV's, it's no wonder only half the cars are in service :-) - Todd.

Car 3230, the last to get rebuilt and the only one not to have wings.  Only about half the cars are serviceable at any one time, it seems.  This one had not yet entered service when this picture was taken as it was not finished.

Car #3263 at the Mattapan Station.

Interior shot facing forward.

Interior of Mattapan-Ashmont PCC.  very reminiscent of 7407 as they were built at the same plant within months of each other, with car 3087 possibly at the same time.
These cars never run with both banks of lights on.  I had to turn the right side lights on for the picture. 
The operator was okay with it but the starter in the shack ahead of the car went nuts.



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New 1/17/2016
last Modified: 18 Jan 2016