Boston hotspots?

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  • Member since
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Boston hotspots?
Posted by Niwdlab on Thursday, October 11, 2012 11:05 AM

Going to Boston, MA, in the beginning of Nov, are  there any Hotspots close to Boston?  Coming from Norway, and without any knowledge about the city and the surroundings, it would be nice with some advice on where to go, and perhaps not to go. We are planning to rent a car.

Any thing on Cape Cod, or is it just Bike Trails now?

I have searched the web to find info, but haven't found very much.

Regards O.T.

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Posted by John WR on Saturday, October 13, 2012 8:45 PM

The city of Boston itself is a railroad hot spot.  It has the the nation's first streetcar suburbs and much of the system is in place.  The boston "subway" (sometimes it runs above ground) is called the "T."  You can get information on the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) website.  

Among the nations oldest railroads are the Boston and Providence, today part of the Northeast Corridor line and served by both Amtrak and MBTA commuter service and the Boston and Lowell, also served by MBTA commuter service.  Trains depart from Boston's South Station.  

At South Station you can see an Acela which runs between Boston and Washington.  This is America's fastest train but does not compare in speed to European trains.  It is also the most expensive.  The Boston to Providence line is not particularly scenic but does have a lot of old railroad buildings along it.  If you want to see it I suggest you take the MBTA commuter train which is cheaper and slower; you will see a lot more.  

I've never been to Lowell.  It was America's first factory town and today is suppose to be a restored tourist attraction.  

There is no rail service to Cape Cod.  You can certainly drive there.  There are a lot of old towns and at the end Province Town is perhaps the best known place.  In November it will be fairly quiet as it is very much a summer resort.  

Boston is one of the few US cities where it is quite possible to live without a car.  It was an important city during the American Revolution and important during the industrial revolution.  The city has many museums and cultural attractions.   I don't know what your interests are beyond railroads.  There are plenty of current rail operations to see.  In addition to what I mention above there is also the Route 128 station on the line to Providence.  Route 128 is a ring road around Boston.  It is the first commuter railroad station on a large highway in the country but at the same time is not very interesting unless you like dull architecture and large parking lots.  

One Amtrak train, the "Down Easter," runs out of Boston's North Station up to Maine.  

When you arrive at Logan Airport there is a new transit link to South Station with is a transit hub in the city.  Boston is notoriously difficult to drive in.  If I were going before I rented a car I would make sure I needed it to get to the particular place I was going and use public transit to get around.  However, I don't want to tell you how to take your trip.  Most of all I hope you enjoy one of our older cities.  

I'm not familiar with freight railroads in the area so I can't comment.  

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Posted by DMUinCT on Sunday, October 14, 2012 11:28 AM

To add for Cape Cod, you reach by Car or Bus.  Once on "The Cape" go to Hyannis, The Cape Cod Railroad runs tourist trains from Hyannis to the Cape Cod Canal and back by day and  a Dinner Train in the evening.

From Boston's South Station, Amtrak, the U.S. Government passenger railroad, runs hourly high speed rail to New York and Washington DC.  The Acela Service that reaches 2.5kph (150mph) is at extra cost as it is 1st Class and Business Class only (no coach seats).   Standard Northeast Regional trains with coach class service run about every 2 hours.    

Amtrak "Downeaster" also provide standard passenger service, 3 trips a day, from Boston's North Station to Portland and Brunswick Maine.

State supported Commuter Rail runs out of both the North and South Stations to cities and town within 50 miles of Boston.   Two freight railroads provide service to the area.   CSX freights serve customers to the south and west to Albany NY.  Pan Am Railway (Gilford Rail) runs service to the north, and west by way of the 5 mile long Hoosac Tunnel through the Berkshire Mountians to NY state.  

You can take photos from "public property", you are well advised to stay off of railroad property with a camera.   Since 9/11, anyone may be questioned, but not stopped when taking photos. 

Don U. TCA 73-5735

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Posted by Niwdlab on Sunday, October 21, 2012 8:06 AM

Thank you for your advice. It seems to be a lot to see and discover in Boston without a car. So we will stick to the public transport system there. Later on, we will go by car up to the lakes in NH, and back along the coast. And maybe try the "Downeaster".

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Posted by h2w on Friday, November 2, 2012 8:56 PM

if you have chance to go north of Boston rigby yard in south portland maine is a good place to start for freight action on pan am/guilford with various locals working the area, theres a paper mill is westbrook outside of portland, amtrak's downeaster terminates in portland

the Boston area itself has some interresting freight action, in south Boston is the CSX, with Beacon Yard and not too far from boston is worchester with csx and providence and Rhode Island. south of boston in the weymouth area has at least did have some interresting stuff.

north station itself is interresting taking a mbta train from there is cheap heading towards lowel and lawrence. lowel is not too far of a drive and the amtrack station has good freight ation with Pan Ams yard near bye

good luck


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Posted by rrlawren on Monday, December 3, 2012 7:29 PM

Here's a question about North Station.  I was in Boston over thanksgiving. One of the special things  did was take the Downeaster to Portland. On the return just outside the platform area of North Station, I noticed two RDC's is truly decrepit condition.  The name boards were still legible as Boston and Maine, but everything else looked like they hadn't moved in decades.  What's their story?  Here is North Texas we have 15-20 of them in very active service on the TRE.

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Posted by John WR on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 4:30 PM

They are reported to have been crew and mechanical quarters but are now vandalized.  Here is further information:

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Posted by gprimr1 on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 10:41 AM

You can get some great shots of trains departing Boston for the west.

If your planning on renting a car, I def recommend going to Ayer. It's a major working point for the Pan Am railway and there is a passenger station you can watch the action. 

If your feeling adventurous, East Deerfield yard is a fun place to go but it's about 2 hours west of Boston. You can follow trains from the yard along MA Route 2 through the scenic Berkshire mountains and see the Hoousaic Tunnel (one of the first great railway tunnels in America) 

Boston subways also provide a lot of photo ops. MBTA has relaxed their photo policies after the ACLU got on them, but be cognisant of recent events in Boston. 

if you go up along US Route 1 north of Boston, there is lots of MBTA. 

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