Proposed Foxboro train line serves as alternative to Franklin Line


Before the Patriots game on November 23, the event-only MBTA train passes the South Walpole Post Office.

The Executive Director of the Office of Transportation Planning for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), David Mohler presented about the potential for Gillette Stadium’s platform to transform from a special event-only platform to a weekday commuter rail station at the Foxboro Board of Selectmen Meeting on Tuesday, November 18.

The proposed schedule runs five trains a day Monday through Friday — two morning, two evening, and one midday. The commuter rail change extends the Fairmount Line to Foxboro via the current Franklin Line tracks that run between Readville and South Station. However, unlike the Franklin commuter rail line, the proposed service does not have any stops between Readville and Foxboro. Once the new train reaches the Walpole commuter rail station, it switches to the tracks currently used solely for freight trains and special event trains to Gillette. Therefore, this line serves as a faster alternative to the commuter line that runs through Walpole (the Franklin Line).

Speaking during the public comment part of the meeting, Foxboro resident Stephanie McGowan said, “I think you’d be surprised at the amount of people that would use that train. I just think before we sit back and say I don’t want the train or the commuter rail in Foxboro, we really need to find out all the information.”

If the Foxboro service plans go through, the state has to upgrade the train lines. The future improvements intend to account for the commuter rail trains, which will travel at speeds of up to forty miles per hour. Additionally, due to safety regulations, the station requires new gates and signal systems to replace the current equipment.  The improvements allow the trains to travel from Walpole to Foxboro in 7 minutes, as opposed to the 33 minutes that it takes currently.

However, some people in Walpole — especially South Walpole where the train goes — do not see this new proposal as a positive change.

Walpole Selectman Chris Timson said, “More trains [that run] at much faster speeds can create safety hazards on our roads where the trains cross and [can] be a significant detriment to property owners along the rail line.”

At the Foxboro Board of Selectmen meeting, one question kept popping up: Who determined this need? Is this proposal coming from Foxboro residents, the Kraft Group, state officials, or the MBTA?  The answer is unclear.

In 2010, the Jacobs Engineering Company prepared a report for the MBTA and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development called “The Foxboro Commuter Rail Feasibility Study.”  When they discussed the plans with the Board of Selectmen from Walpole and Foxboro at that time, they did not advance any further. Foxboro and Walpole Boards of Selectmen — and many of their residents — both agreed that more information was necessary before any plans are implemented.

However, the decision is legally not up to the residents. There are not any votes or agreements that need to take place in Foxboro or Walpole in order for this to happen. Thus, the MBTA and the Kraft Group can move forward with their plans if they choose to do so.

“The state is not bound by local zoning or local decisions,” said Mohler, “however, if the town of Foxboro overwhelmingly doesn’t want a train station, [they do not] necessarily have a veto but we care what [they] think and we are not in the business of shoving our infrastructure down peoples’ throats.”

In addition to the potential new Foxboro Station, MassDOT recently made a significant purchase that would allow the commuter rail service to reach Foxboro. They purchased the Framingham Secondary Line from the CSX Corporation for $23,000,000.00. This line connects the Worcester Line in Framingham to the Providence Line in Mansfield.  Currently, freight trains run along this route, but the potential Foxboro Station also lies along this route. Check it out at Therefore, this rail purchase enabled the state to pursue the option of having a station at Gillette.   

“We did not buy the Framingham Secondary because it lets us extend commuter rail to Foxboro,” said Mohler, “But having bought the Framingham Secondary allows us to extend commuter rail to Foxboro.”

The Foxboro Board of Selectman submitted an official letter to Mohler expressing their wishes that the MassDOT holds off on any official Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) until the Foxboro and Walpole officials and residents receive sufficient information. Representatives from the MassDOT will present information and answer questions at the Walpole Board of Selectmen meeting December 2 at 7 p.m. in the Boyden Elementary School cafeteria.