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MassGIS Data: Trains

April 2015
Active Trains: passenger, freight, and MBTA Commuter Rail and Rapid Transit

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Sample of TrainsThe layer includes active passenger, freight, and MBTA Commuter Rail and Rapid Transit railways, along with abandoned rail lines and railroad beds now used as rail trails. In many instances there is more than one track per rail line, and rail yards and spurs are included.

The Central Transportation Planning Staff updated and enhanced railroad linework distributed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as 1:100,000 Digital Line Graphs (DLGs). The original 1:100,000 DLG data were conflated to the orthophoto-derived 1:5,000 Centerline linework now used in this layer. CTPS added several attributes pertaining to type of service, MBTA Commuter Rail status, rail line ownership, and freight and passenger operation.

Stored in ArcSDE and distributed in shapefile format, the statewide layers are named TRAINS_ARC (rail lines), TRAINS_NODE (named station locations) and TRAINS_RTE_TRAIN (MBTA Commuter Rail Routes (a dissolved subset of TRAINS_ARC). In addition, the MBTA Rapid Transit data are stored in separate layers (subway, trolley, Silver Line railways and T stops).

The data are up-to-date through April 29, 2015.


Sample of Trains MBTA Commuter Rail Lines and StationsCTPS transferred the attributes from the old trains data layer and has added many more. CTPS used track charts, railroad timetables, old maps, University of New Hampshire website, railroad websites, books, rail experts and field work for sources of information.

The lines and branches in the arc layer represent the most current name for the rail line while the route feature class has more names for same line. One line may be named differently and have different beginning and ending points because of historic changes or because of passenger operations and freight operations on the line. The route system contains routes based on several sources. The route source item identifies its source. The karr_rt is the numbering system depicted in "The Rail Lines of Southern New England" by Ronald Karr. The 189 routes include the Amtrak Downeaster, Amtrak Northeast Corridor, the MBTA Commuter Rail lines, and others.

Segments of rail trails that are in the railroad right-of-way have been added. Track numbers were coded where track charts were available to delineate them.

The node layer contains station names and links to the Federal Railroad Administration's Crossing database (crossing), the National Bridge Inventory (bin, alt-bin) and MassHighway Road Inventory data layer (csn).

MassGIS received data from CTPS and converted the route and node layers directly to ArcSDE format. The arc feature class was dissolved on all fields to remove pseudo-nodes before being imported to SDE. MassGIS also performed some quality assurance on the data.


The Central Transportation Planning Staff will update the datalayer as needed and provide data files to MassGIS for distribution.

In the July 2014 release the SERV_TYPE and DES_HSPDC fields were added to TRAINS_ARC, the fields LINE_BRNCH and STATE were added to TRAINS_NODE, and the status of some Commuter Rail lines and stations were updated to reflect the latest MBTA map. In April 2015 the point for the Brockton Commuter Rail station was moved to its correct location.

Last Updated 4/29/2015


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The TRAINS_ARC attribute table includes the following fields: 

Item Name Width/Type Description
TYPE 2 / I Type of service. See TABLE 1 below
SOURCE 5 / C See TABLE 2 below
COMMRAIL 1 / C Commuter Rail status. See TABLE 3 below
OWNERSHIP 10 / C See TABLE 4 below
FREIGHT_OP 10 / C See TABLE 5 below
PASS_OP 11 / C See TABLE 6 below
COMM_LINE 40 / C Names of Commuter Rail lines. See TABLE 7 below
LINE_BRNCH 20 / C Line branch
VALPLANNUM 6 / C RR line no. & map no. ref.
VALPLANOWN 10 / C See TABLE 8 below
TRACK 10 / I Track no. in track chart
KARR_RT 6 / C RR rt. in Karrs book
YARD 30 / C Name of rail yard
FREIGHT_ML 1 / C B&M’s Freight Mainline
STATE 2 / C 2-character U.S. state abbreviation
LINE_CODE 10 / I Trk no. in “takings” doc
RAIL_TRL 25 / C Rail trail-(rr row prt only)
SPUR 25 / C Short side track connecting to main line
RT_CLASS 5 / I Rapid Transit rail class. See TABLE 9 below
RT_LINE 20 / C Abbreviated name for Rapid Transit line
RT_STATUS 1 / C Status of Rapid Transit line (Y = active; P = proposed)
MAP_ONE 1 / C Singles out one arc on multiple track lines for display purposes
DATE_ABAND 5 / I Year line was abandoned
ASSET 10 / I Name of tunnel (for Rapid Transit lines)
ASSET_ID 25 / C ASSET identifier
SERV_TYPE 25 / C Service type
DES_HSPDC 25 / C Designated high speed rail corridor (indicated with a value of -1)

The TRAINS_NODE attribute table includes the following fields:

Item Name Width/Type Description
STATION 25 / C Station name
C_RAILSTAT 1 / C MBTA Commuter Rail station status (See TABLE 3 below)
AMTRAK 1 / C AMTRAK station ("Y" if yes)
MAP_STA 1 / C Singles out one station point ("Y") for display purposes
LINE_BRNCH 25 / C Commuter Rail line or other line/branch name on which the station is located
STATE 25 / C State in which the train station is located

The TRAINS_RTE_TRAIN route class attribute table includes the following fields:

Item Name Width/Type Description
COMM_LINE 30 / C Name of MBTA Commuter line
COMMRAIL 1 / C MBTA Commuter Rail line status (See TABLE 3 below)

The following tables detail code descriptions (for TRAINS_ARC unless otherwise specified):


1 Active rail service
2 Multiple use i.e. active and recreation
3 Abandoned rail service
4 Abandoned rail service ROW in public ownership
5 Unknown status
6 Out of service
7 Right-of-way (ROW) used for hiking and biking
8 Other ROW (once used for trolleys, or never built or used for rail)
9 MBTA Rapid Transit


Visible indicates new 1:5000 scale line work received from MassGIS. These codes refer to the source of the attribute information. In addition to the coded sources, CTPS relied heavily on the University New Hampshire's website of scanned maps and the personal resources and expertise of CTPS staff person Tom Humphrey.

1890 1890 Topographical maps of Massachusetts (MA publisher).
1938 1938 General Highway Maps (MA DPW publisher).
BTS Bureau of Transportation Statistics
KARR "The Rail Lines of Southern New England" by Ronald Karr
MACOA Massachusetts Coastal Railways
MBTA Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
P&W Providence and Worcester Railroad
vpmap Valuation Section Maps of 1917 of NY, NH, &H and Central NE Lines and 1970's Boston & Main Valuation Section Map.

TABLE 3 - COMMRAIL (arcs) and C_RAILSTAT (nodes)

Y Active MBTA Commuter Rail line or station
S Seasonal Commuter Rail service (to Cape Cod in the summer, and to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough for special events)
P Seriously proposed Commuter Rail line or station
C Under construction


BCLR Bay Colony Railroad
COMM MA Commonwealth of Massachusetts
CP Canadian Pacific Railway
CSO Connecticut Southern Railroad
CSX CSX Transportation
CT STATE F Connecticut
DCR MA Department of Conservation and Recreation
DFG MA Department of Fish and Game
EB&S East Brookfield & Spencer Railroad
FEDERAL United States Departments--DOD and Parks
G&U Grafton & Upton
HOUSATONIC Houstonic Railroad
LOCAL City or town
MASS COASTAL Massachusetts Coastal Railways
MASSPORT Massachusetts Port Authority
MBTA Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
MWRA Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
MassDOT-HIGHWAY Mass. Dept. of Transportation - Highway Division
MassDOT-RAIL Mass. Dept. of Transportation - Rail & Transit Division
NECR New England Central Railroad
P&W Providence and Worcester Railroad
PANAM Pan Am Railways
PAS Pan Am Southern
PI Private Industry
PRIVATE Private owner
PV Pioneer Valley Railroad
SEAVIEW TRANSPORTATION Seaview Transportation Company
VC Central Vermont

TABLE 5 - FREIGHT_OP (Freight Operation)

BCLR Bay Colony Railroad (OoS indicates out of state)
CP Canadian Pacific Railway
CSO Connecticut Southern Railroad
CSX CSX Transportation
EB&S East Brookfield & Spencer Railroad
FLETCHER Fletcher Granite Quarry
FORE Fore River Railroad
G&U Grafton & Upton Railroad
HOUSATONIC Housatonic Railroad
MACOASTAL Massachusetts Coastal Railways
MBTA Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
MCR Massachusetts Central Railroad
NECR New England Central Railroad
P&W Providence & Worcester Railroad
PANAM Pan Am Railways
PAS Pan Am Southern
PV Pioneer Valley Railroad
SEAVIEW Seaview Transportation Company

TABLE 6 - PASS_OP (Passenger Operation)

AMTRAK/MBTA AMTRAK and MBTA operate on the line
BERK SCENIC Recreational "dinner ride" in Berkshires
CC DN Recreational "dinner ride" to Cape Cod
MBTA Massachusett Bay Transportation Authority

TABLE 7 - COMM_LINE (MBTA Commuter Rail Lines)

FAIR Fairmount Line
FITCH Fitchburg Line
fox Foxboro (special events-only line)
FR Fall River Line
FRANK Franklin Line
GB Greenbush Line
HAV Haverhill/Reading Line
LOW Lowell Line
MID-LAKE Middleborough/Lakeville Line
NB New Bedford Line
NEE Needham Line
NEW-ROC Newburyport/Rockport Line
OC Old Colony Lines
PLY-KING Plymouth/Kingston Line
PROV-STO Providence/Stoughton Line
SC South Coast Lines
WOR Worcester Line

Lines that share the same track are separated with a +.

TABLE 8 - VALPLANOWN (Valuation Plan Owner at the time of 1917 valuation)

B&A Boston & Albany
B&M Boston & Maine
CHATHAM RR Chatham Railroad
CV Central Vermont
G&U Grafton & Upton
HAMPDEN RR Hampden Railroad
HT&W Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington
LRR Lancaster Railroad
N&W Norwich & Worcester
NYNH&H New York, New Haven & Hartford
P&W Providence & Worcester
SALEM & LA Salem & Lawrence
SNE Southern New England Railway
UNION FREI Union Freight

TABLE 9 - RT_CLASS (MBTA Rapid Transit rail class)

1 Above Ground, Private ROW
2 Light Rail with Reservation in Street
3 Light Rail in Street with Traffic
4 Elevated
6 Open Cut
7 Underground Subway