Keep in mind this was the second rapid transit flavor proposed by the BTC in '45, only it was to be hooked to some HRT line to be determined instead of interlining with Green. I don't know if the B&A era did any heavy circuiting of Highland Branch vs. mainline. There was always an engine facility at Riverside Yard, so it was probably not done all the time due to mainline congestion. Some of the time, though, there probably were real SS-Riverside-SS circuits.This (highlighted), by the by, is the reason the Needham Line has that wonky L-shape and (uniquely) starts its inbound journeys by heading south away from Boston. Those stops in Needham would have been the end of a journey coming from Newton when the line was originally built.
And, again, not for nothing, but that path to Needham via Newton Highlands was the original route of the railroad (originally the Charles River Railroad) out from what is now Kenmore. The connection to Riverside didn't come for another 30 years.
So, both the Needham Cutoff and the segment from Riverside to the former Cook Junction south of Newton Highlands were later additions to the system. But of course now, both form integral segments of the network.
Speaking of crazy transit pitches -- and this is not so much a crazy pitch as an "alternate history pitch" -- but I do sometimes muse about what it would have been like if that entire quadrant has been rapid-transit-ified in a manner similar to the Highland Branch in the '50s (or using mainline service instead). Three overlapping circuits:
- Back Bay-Allston-Newton Corner-Riverside-Newtown Highlands-Brookline-Back Bay
The HRT line of course became impossible when the Pike gobbled B&A Tracks 3 & 4 in '65 after much infighting about whether the Pike Extension was going to glom directly to the B&A or take a more destructive path through Newton.
This was indeed the B&A circuit. Split-jurisdiction running because NYNH&H was owner to W. Roxbury Jct., and after the Needham Cutoff was constructed the New Haven took over the long-haul runs to Woonsocket so the B&A could concentrate on the way more profitable circuit runs.
- Back Bay-Brookline-Newton Highlands-Needham-West Roxbury-Forest Hills-Back Bay
This was the New Haven's 'circuit'. Ran almost as frequent as the B&A circuit, so the service density thru W. Roxbury Station was absolutely incredible. Needham circuit, Dedham circuit, a sparser slate of Medfield-Bellingham-Woonsocket runs, and some sparse alt-routed Franklin Line trains as the Dedham Line was the original NY&NE mainline to Islington (the Midland from Islington to South Boston was built much later when the NY&NE got sick of getting gouged by Boston & Providence for trackage rights and built its own independent terminal in the Seaport).
- Back Bay-Forest Hills-West Roxbury-Dedham Center-Readville-Forest Hills-Back Bay
Dedham Ctr.-Islington was cut in the mid-40's to widen Route 1 to 4 lanes (tracks were right to the side of the curb). Cash-strapped New Haven ended the Dedham 'circuit in '58 same year it half-assed took over the Upper Falls short-turns from B&A when the D truncated the Needham circuit. The remaining Dedham short-turn via Readville lasted into the MBTA subsidy era till '67 but was one of those pathetic 1 rush-hour trip only per peak phantom jobs. Dedham Line south of W. Rox was immediately abandoned by the New Haven and bought by the MTA as landbanking for the OL extension. That landbanking lasted until the T's 2008 decision at request of Town of Dedham to sell the Belle Ave. ROW for housing...an absolutely horrible, senseless decision after 60 years of proper landbanking practice. Yeah...it's established that Dedham is bizarro anti-transit world, but nobody put a gun to the agency's head to actually listen to them. Arrrrgh!!! Dedham Branch out of Readville remained active for freight till '93-95 to a small transload yard where the athletic fields next to the highway are, then abandonment + state landbanking was processed right about the time CSX swallowed Conrail in '99-00. Speaking of bizarro anti-transit world...Dedham this winter voted down--again--the latest trail proposal for the Dedham Branch. So that 100% grade-separated jaunt Readville-Dedham Ctr. is just going to sit there collecting weeds for another generation because they're the most transpo ass-backward municipality bar none inside Route 128.
Not quite...the Dedham Branch's junction (still active for T work equipment) was NEC-only, being a level below where Fairmount is. It framed one side of an island platform with the current Franklin-connector platform @ Readville. As ^above^ Fairmount-Franklin didn't exist through here till relatively late in history because the original mainline to Islington went via W. Rox/Dedham and Forest Hills. What today is Track 61 + Fairmount + Endicott/Dedham Corporate was the "new" grade-separated mainline to NY&NE's home terminal at the Seaport bypassing all the NEC trackage rights the then- Boston & Providence was nickel-and-diming them for.For bonus points, you could go further and add service over the Fairmount Line into the mix, looping via Dedham.
Since Dedham is the land of "No!", however, and that trail isn't coming anytime soon...you *could* if Urban Rail takes off hot enough very easily fashion a service fork to Dedham Ctr. by laying a new bridge over the NEC and diving under Sprague St. on correct angle for the Dedham Branch. There will be room for that with the pending relocation of the current Fairmount-side Readville platform 200+ ft. north to a 2-track island. Dedham Branch is missing one overpass deck @ River St. (torn out approx. 5 years ago because it was in weak condition), and 1 overpass deck + abutment @ East St. into the former yard area by the athletic fields. The high school has taken out a revokable easement on the ROW for the driveway around the football field. You could either fight with them on revoking the easement (probably not advisable...too many kids really need the at-grade access), or dig about 800 ft. of capped box underpass (i.e. Wellington tunnel...not "tunnel-tunnel", so no ventilation considerations). Mt. Vernon and Walnut St.'s are already a road overpasses of the track cut (which was filled in a little for the school easement), so the inclines on both sides would be negligible. Just provision it to double-track width for future-proofing, because this has *slight*/minimal-priority future potential of absorbing a Red Line extension out of Mattapan via new River St. subway + Fairmount Tks. 3 & 4 berths to Readville. Intermediate stops till '67 used to be East Dedham @ River St., Stone Haven by Mt. Vernon, and Dedham Ctr. abutting the highway and High St./East St. intersection.
(And expect Dedham townies to shit all over it regardless of what a good and reasonably sane/easy-implementation idea it may be.)