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MassGIS Data: Trains

April 2015

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

Table of Contents



The 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).


CTPS 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.