MBTA Wachusett Commuter Rail Extension Project
Wachusett Commuter Rail Station and Westminster Layover Facility
The Wachusett Extension project extends the Fitchburg commuter rail line 4 miles west to the new Wachusett Station conveniently located off Route 2 at Route 31 in West Fitchburg. The new station provides improved mass transit access to the West Fitchburg area and surrounding communities including Princeton, Ashburnham, and Gardner, as well as Wachusett Mountain. The project reduces commuting time from the Montachusestt Region to the Boston area job market and increases the supply of commuter parking in the western part of the region.
The new Wachusett Station has a fully-accessible, high-level platform allowing for direct platform-to-coach boarding. The new 360 space parking lot off Authority Drive,in the 231 Industrial Park adjacent to the Omnova Solutions plant, is operated by the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority (MART). The parking lot includes a drop-off area with a passenger shelter for both cars and buses including the Wachusett Mountain shuttles.
The operation of the Fitchburg Line will be more efficient with the new train Layover Facility in Westminster that has replaced the former, obsolete facility in Lunenburg. The new Layover Facility is located 1.5 miles west of Wachusett Station off Theodore Drive in the Westminster Business Park. The new Facility will have capacity to storage up to 6 trains and includes modern drainage and electrical systems to reduce runoff, noise, and air pollution.
The existing rail line between Fitchburg Station and the Westminster Layover facility has been upgraded to accommodate the extension of commuter rail service to Wachusett Station in partnership with Pan Am Southern, the freight railroad that owns this section of the railroad. This work included rail and tie replacements, bridge repairs, new crossovers, a new signal system, and freight clearance improvements. The project has been coordinated with a separate project to upgrade the old side tracks in the 231 Industrial Park to allow for rail freight service to the Omnova Solutions plant increasing that facility's economic viability.
Construction began with site preparation for the station and layover facility in late 2012. A ground breaking signaling the onset of the Track, Layover, and Station was held in August 2013. Track, signal, and bridge rehabilitation began in Spring 2015. Initial Commuter Rail service to Wachusett Station began on September 30, 2016 and full service commenced on November 21, 2016. The overall cost of the extension is $93 million funded in part by a $59 million ARRA-TIGER grant from the Federal Transit Administration.