Operational History of the MBTA’s Commuter Lines
Keolis Commuter Services began acting as the operator of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s Commuter Rail System on July 1, 2014. Keolis approached its contract with a commitment to enhancing safety, “thinking like a passenger,” increasing ridership through improved service and establishing a strong partnership with the MBTA.
This document provides a comprehensive history of the operators of the passenger railroad system in Massachusetts:
1835 – 1887 BOSTON AND LOWELL RAILROAD
Chartered by the State Legislature in 1835 the Boston and Lowell Railroad was one of the earliest railroads in the country and the first major rail line to operate in Massachusetts. It was ultimately acquired by its competitor, the New Hampshire-chartered Boston and Maine Railroad (B&M), in 1887.
1887 – 1987 BOSTON AND MAINE RAILROAD
The Boston and Maine (B&M) ran both freight and passenger services through-ought the region until it filed for bankruptcy in 1970. Subsequently, the MBTA purchased B&M’s lines and contracted it to continue operating service. The MBTA consolidated Massachusetts’ commuter services by also acquiring train lines running to the south and the west. Meanwhile, it continued to contract B&M as the operator until 1987 when the contract expired.
1987 – 2003 AMTRAK
From 1987 to 2003 Amtrak operated the Commuter System. It did not seek to renew its contract.
2003 – 2014 MASSACHUSETTS BAY COMMUTER RAIL (MBCR)
MBCR was awarded a contract to operate the Commuter system in 2003. Through two extensions, it continued until 2014 when its contract expired and having lost its bid to Keolis.
2014 – Present KEOLIS COMMUTER SERVICES
Keolis was awarded an eight-year, $2.6B contract to manage commuter operations for the MBTA, the largest in Massachusetts history. There is a possibility of two two-year extensions.