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Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line

M-Line trolley car #3254 leaves Ashmont Station. August 2005.
Type Trolley
Locale Boston, Massachusetts Milton, Massachusetts (Dorchester to Mattapan via Milton)
Termini Ashmont
Stations 8
Services 1
Daily ridership 6,684[1]
Opened 1929
Owner MBTA
Operator(s) MBTA
Character Grade-separated ROW
Rolling stock PCC streetcar
Line length 2.6 mi (4.2 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm)
Minimum radius of curvature 43 ft (13.106 m) [2]
Electrification Overhead lines

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 (trolleys) and passengers have to change at Ashmont. 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.


History and geography

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 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 trolley 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 trolleys 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 privately owned and has only two at-grade crossings on its 2.6-mile route.

The portion of the line from Ashmont to Cedar Grove and through the cemetery follows the path of the original Shawmut Branch of the Old Colony Railroad, which opened in 1872. The cemetery is the point where the Shawmut Branch intersects with the original Dorchester and Milton Branch.

The line's longest shut down occurred June 24, 2006 while the Ashmont and Mattapan stations were renovated. Service was restored on December 22, 2007.[3] As of this writing, the Ashmont terminal is not yet completed, however, Mattapan service continues from its new elevated loop platform.

Rolling stock

The rolling stock of the Ashmont–Mattapan Line consists of refurbished, historic PCC streetcars that formerly ran on the Green Line. A similar street car can be seen in a side tunnel at Boylston station on the Green Line.


Using funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the MBTA is conducting a pilot test of technology similar to a collision avoidance system in an automobile. It would use radar and increasingly fast beeping to warn train operators of obstacles ahead. Like positive train control, it would stop the train if the driver did not take action to avoid an impending collision.[4] If successful, the system would be considered for deployment on the Green Line, where several collisions had recently occurred.



  1. ^ Typical weekday, according to 2005 CTPS counts, obtained by public information request from the MBTA.
  3. ^ Mattapan Trolley to Re - Open. MBTA. Retrieved on 2007-12-24.
  4. ^


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