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Rail Vision

Updated on May 6, 2019

Logo with "Rail Vision" in purple and a grid layout between the two words

About the Project

Timeline: 2018 – 2019
Status: Planning

MBTA Rail Vision will identify cost-effective strategies to transform the existing Commuter Rail system into one that better supports improved mobility and economic competitiveness in Greater Boston.

A thorough evaluation of costs, ridership potential, and operational feasibility of various alternatives, as well as broad public conversation in 2019, will inform the ultimate vision for the future of the Commuter Rail—one that the MBTA will then begin to turn into a reality.

See proposed Rail Vision alternatives

Advisory Committee

The role of the Rail Vision Advisory Committee is to provide informed advice to MBTA leadership and the project team. The members represent diverse perspectives of the MBTA service area.

 Download roster of Rail Vision Advisory Committee Members

What's New in 2019

Over the past year, the Rail Vision team has focused on learning about effective Commuter Rail service around the world, identifying service models we can test on our system, and understanding the constraints and opportunities with our current infrastructure.

This included:

  • Reviewing more than a dozen domestic and international peer rail systems
  • Developing clear objectives for a future MBTA rail system
  • Evaluating more than 60 service concepts across all 14 Commuter Rail lines to project potential ridership benefits and required infrastructure changes
  • Developing 7 service alternatives, featuring a range of service approaches and technologies, to move forward into the next phase of analysis
  • Hosting 5 Advisory Committee meetings to gather feedback about our objectives, service concepts, initial results, and 7 service alternatives

Rail Vision Alternatives

The Rail Vision team is putting forward 7 alternatives for how the Commuter Rail could operate in the future. These range in service frequency, vehicle technology, and level of capital and operational investment. We will use several modeling tools to evaluate their feasibility, cost, ridership benefits, and any potential effects on regional land use.

To learn more about each alternative, download the fact sheet for each one below. Each PDF includes a map of the service area, service features, and a summary of benefits and trade-offs.

Alternative 1: Optimize Current System

Alternative 2: Regional Rail to Key Stations (Diesel)

Alternative 3: Regional Rail to Key Stations (Electric)

Alternative 4: Urban Rail (Diesel)

Alternative 5: Urban Rail (Electric)

Alternative 6: Full Transformation

Alternative 7: Hybrid System

Get Involved

Provide feedback on the Rail Vision alternatives below, and see what riders and non-riders have to say about service.

Check back here for opportunities to share your input with the Rail Vision team, and sign up for email updates.


Review documents related to the Rail Vision project.

Peer Systems Review (November 2018)

Related Projects

Recent Updates

Contact Information

For all queries and comments related to Rail Vision, please contact Scott Hamwey, manager of Transit Planning at the Office of Transportation Planning, at or 857-368-9800.