The Western Railroad was chartered February 15, 1833 and incorporated March 15, 1833 to connect the B&W to the Hudson and Berkshire Railroad at the New York state line. Construction began in 1837, and the Eastern Division to the Connecticut River in Springfield opened on October 1 1839. The Western Division, through the Berkshire Hills, opened in sections from both ends - from the state line to Pittsfield May 4, 1841, West Springfield to Chester May 24, 1841, Springfield to West Springfield (across the Connecticut River) July 4, 1841, Pittsfield to "Summit" August 9, 1841, and Chester to Summit September 13, 1841. On October 4, 1841 the first train ran along the full route.
The Castleton and West Stockbridge Railroad was incorporated in New York in 1834 as the New York part of the Western Railroad, and changed its name to the Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad (map) (chartered May 5, 1836, organized May 20). Construction began in December 1840 and the line opened from Greenbush (east of Albany) to Chatham on December 21, 1841 and to the Massachusetts state line on September 12, 1842. It was leased to the Western Railroad for 50 years from November 11, 1841. This railroad replaced the Hudson and Berkshire Railroad east of Chatham, which was abandoned around 1860.
Two mergers, on September 4, 1867 and December 28, 1870 brought the three companies together, along with the Hudson and Boston Railroad (a branch to Hudson, New York — see below) into one company, known as the Boston and Albany Railroad. The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad leased the B&A for 99 years from July 1, 1900. This lease passed to the New York Central Railroad in 1914; throughout this, the B&A kept its own branding in the public eye. The NYC merged into Penn Central on February 1, 1968.
In 1883, the B&A acquired track then owned by the New York and New England Railroad as far as Newton Highlands, and in 1884, began the construction of a line northwest to the B&A mainline creating a commuter loop. "The Circuit," as this route was called, officially opened in May 1886 providing double-track operation from downtown Boston through Brookline to Newton Highlands, then north into Riverside and four tracks on the mainline from Riverside back to downtown so that commuter and mainline operations did not conflict. By 1889 as many as 35 trains traveled the Circuit daily, providing superior commuter service.
In 1899, the new South Station union station opened in Boston, a few blocks northeast of the old terminal. That terminal had been located on the west side of Utica Street, from Kneeland Street south to a bit past Harvard Street, now part of the South Bay Interchange. Even earlier, the terminal was in the block bounded by Kneeland Street, Beach Street, Albany Street (now Surface Artery) and Lincoln Street (which later became a freight house).
By the early part of the 20th century, commuter rail service was provided east of Worcester, with intercity rail continuing on west. The intercity trips were taken over by Amtrak on May 1, 1971, and on January 27, 1973 the MBTA acquired the line east of Framingham. Service beyond Framingham was discontinued October 27, 1975, as the state did not subsidize it. Conrail took over Penn Central on April 1, 1976. On September 26, 1994, some rush hour trains started to serve Worcester on Conrail trackage (which became CSX trackage on June 1, 1999), extending to other times beginning on December 14, 1996.
The Boston Subdivision of CSX retains rights to use certain MBTA-owned track.
In 1882 the B&A bought part of the Charles River Branch, and in 1884 they built a line from Riverside to the branch, forming the Highland Branch, Newton Highlands Branch or "Newton Circuit". Service ended in 1958, and the MBTA Green Line "D" Branch light rail line started using the tracks in 1959.Newton Lower Falls The short 1.25 mile (2.0 km) Newton Lower Falls Branch opened in 1847, splitting from the main line just west of Riverside to Newton Lower Falls. At some point it was realigned to split at Riverside.Saxonville The Saxonville Branch opened in 1846, running 3.87 miles (6.2 km) from Natick to Saxonville.Framingham The Framingham Branch opened in 1849, running 2.06 miles (3.3 km) from Framingham to Framingham Centre. The Agricultural Branch Railroad was incorporated in 1847 and opened in 1855, continuing the branch to Northborough, and to Pratts Junction in 1866. It was leased by the B&W in 1853, but consolidated into the Boston, Clinton, Fitchburg and New Bedford Railroad in 1876 and leased to the Old Colony Railroad in 1879 after changing its name to the Boston, Clinton and Fitchburg Railroad in 1867. This company also used the Framingham Branch as part of its main line.Milford In 1847, the 11.97 mile (19.3 km) Milford Branch, splitting at Framingham, opened. A connection was later made at Milford to the Milford and Woonsocket Railroad and Hopkinton Railway.Millbury The 3.07 mile (4.9 km) Millbury Branch opened in 1846 from a split at Millbury Junction on the Grafton/Millbury line to Millbury.Webster The Providence, Webster and Springfield Railroad was chartered in 1882, opened in 1884, and always leased to and operated by the B&A. The line formed a branch of the B&A from Webster Junction in Auburn to the Worcester and Norwich Railroad in Webster, with a short branch (East Village Branch) in Webster to East Village.Spencer The Spencer Railroad railroad opened and was leased to the B&A in 1879, as a short branch from South Spencer to Spencer. The B&A outright bought it in 1889.North Brookfield The North Brookfield Railroad was chartered in 1874, inbcorporated in 1875 and opened in 1876, branching from the B&A in East Brookfield and running to North Brookfield. It was leased to the B&A from opening.Ware River The Ware River Railroad was chartered in 1868, running from Palmer to the Cheshire Railroad in Winchendon. The first section, from Palmer to Gilbertville, opened in 1870, and the rest in 1873. Until 1873 it was leased to and operated by the New London Northern Railroad; at that time the lease was transferred to the B&A, as a reorganization of the earlier company.Athol The Athol and Enfield Railroad and Springfield and North-Eastern Railroad were chartered in 1869, and succeeded by the Springfield, Athol and Northeastern Railroad in 1872, opening in 1873 as a branch from Athol Junction in Springfield to the Vermont and Massachusetts Railroad in Athol. The B&A bought the line in 1880. The majority of the line was closed in the 1930s due to the formation of the Quabbin Reservoir.Chester and Becket The Chester and Becket Railroad was chartered in 1896 and opened in 1897 from Chester west to quarries in Becket. It was always operated by the B&A.North Adams The Pittsfield and North Adams Railroad was incorporated in 1842 and opened in 1846, having been already leased to the Western Railroad. It ran from North Adams Junction in Pittsfield to North Adams, where it connected to the Troy and Greenfield Railroad.Hudson The Hudson and Berkshire Railroad was chartered in 1828 to build a line from Hudson, New York to the Massachusetts state line. Construction began in 1835 and was completed in 1838. The company was leased to the Berkshire Railroad, along with the connecting West Stockbridge Railroad, in 1844, but was bought by the Western Railroad in 1854. The name was changed to the Hudson and Boston Railroad in 1855, and the part east of Chatham was abandoned around 1860, as it was redundant with the newer Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad (part of the B&A main line). The rest of the line formed a cutoff between the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad towards New York City and the B&A.Post Road/Selkirk The Post Road Branch or Selkirk Branch was originally built as part of the Hudson River Connecting Railroad, a southern bypass of the Albany area. It opened in 1924, and the part of it from the B&A at Post Road Crossing (the crossing of the Albany Post Road) to Schodack Junction on the east side of the Hudson River became the B&A Post Road Branch. The rest became the New York Central Railroad's Castleton Cut-Off.
|State||Milepost||City||Station||Opening date||Connections and notes|
|MA||0.00||Boston||South Station||1899||All south side Commuter Rail lines|
Amtrak Acela Express, Regional and Lake Shore Limited
replaced older terminal. Passenger connections to Red Line, Silver Line, and intercity bus.
|Columbus Avenue||closed 1899|
|1.25||Back Bay||1899||originally Trinity Place|
splits from Attleboro/Stoughton Line/Franklin Line/Needham Line
Amtrak Acela Express, Regional and Lake Shore Limited
|Yawkey||April 29, 1988||only operated during games at Fenway Park until January 2, 2001 when it opened to daily commuter traffic.|
|Brookline Junction||not a station|
split with Highland Branch (original Brookline Branch)
originally Cottage Farms
|merge with Grand Junction Branch|
|10.90||Riverside||closed October 27, 1977|
split with Highland Branch and Newton Lower Falls Branch
|14.73||Wellesley Square||originally Wellesley|
|17.64||Natick||Natick||split with Saxonville Branch|
|West Natick||August 23, 1982|
|21.36||Framingham||Framingham||Amtrak Lake Shore Limited|
junction with Milford Branch and Boston, Clinton, Fitchburg and New Bedford Railroad (NYNH&H, includes original Framingham Branch)
|24.21||Ashland||Ashland||August 24, 2002||split with Hopkinton Railway (NYNH&H)|
|27.45||Southborough||Southborough||June 22, 2002||originally Cordaville|
|31.92||Westborough||Westborough||June 22, 2002|
|37.85||Grafton||Grafton||February 23, 2000||originally North Grafton|
junction with Grafton and Upton Railroad
split with Millbury Branch
|44.33||Worcester||Worcester||Amtrak Lake Shore Limited|
replaced older terminal
temporarily closed October 26, 1975, reopened September 26, 1994
junction with Providence and Worcester Railroad (NYNH&H), Norwich and Worcester Railroad (NYNH&H), Worcester, Nashua and Rochester Railroad (B&M) and Boston, Barre and Gardner Railroad (B&M)
junction with Norwich and Worcester Railroad (NYNH&H)
|53.06||Auburn||Webster Junction||not a station|
split with Webster Branch
merge with Spencer Branch
|63.78||East Brookfield||East Brookfield||closed|
merge with North Brookfield Branch
|69.60||West Brookfield||West Brookfield||closed|
junction with Ware River Branch and New London Northern Railroad (CN)
merge with connection to Athol Branch
|Athol Junction||not a station|
merge with Athol Branch
|98.33||Springfield||Amtrak Lake Shore Limited|
junction with Hartford and Springfield Railroad (NYNH&H), Springfield and New London Railroad (NYNH&H) and Connecticut River Railroad (B&M)
|100.83||West Springfield||West Springfield (Mittineague)||closed|
|Agawam Junction||not a station|
split with Central New England Railway (NYNH&H)
junction with New Haven and Northampton Railroad (NYNH&H)
split with Chester and Becket Branch
|148.16||Pittsfield||North Adams Junction||closed|
merge with North Adams Branch
|150.59||Pittsfield||Amtrak Lake Shore Limited|
junction with Stockbridge and Pittsfield Railroad (NYNH&H)
|161.78||West Stockbridge||State Line||closed|
junction with West Stockbridge Railroad (NYNH&H)
|New York||163.59||Canaan||Edwards Park||closed|
junction with Hudson Branch, New York and Harlem Railroad (NYC) and Chatham and Lebanon Valley Railroad (Rutland)
split with Post Road Branch
|195.41||East Greenbush||East Greenbush||closed|
|199.83||Rensselaer||Rensselaer||Amtrak Lake Shore Limited|
junction with Hudson River Railroad (NYC), Hudson River Bridge (NYC) and Troy and Greenbush Railroad (NYC)