TRAIN TRAVEL HISTORY IN PAWTUCKET OVER THE LAST 175 YEARS
- Monday January 23, 2023 marks the return of passenger train travel in and out of Pawtucket after a decades long absence. The new MBTA and RIPTA Transit Center will be the fourth train station to operate in downtown Pawtucket. The first station was built in the 1850’s and occupied a location near the present intersection of Broad and Exchange Streets. The tracks had several at grade street crossings throughout the city with many in and around the station. The second station was built opposite the first and opened in 1872. The City of Pawtucket was at this time booming and trains crossing its busy streets in its downtown became an issue for both safety and commerce. The tracks were therefore eventually moved a bit to the north and sunk for much of its path (same route today) through the city in 1914. A grand new depot with parts of it in both Pawtucket and Central Falls was then constructed further north on Broad Street in 1916. It was an over 30,000 square foot brick and granite beaux-arts style structure that sat above the tracks that are now known today as Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. This station had two levels; the upper level housed the 96’ by 64’ waiting room along with a barber shop, restaurant, ticket office, and baggage areas. The lower level had the outdoor track area with two island platforms providing access to all four tracks. Some 140 trains a day stopped at the new station with an average of seventy thousand passenger departures a month. The station however began to decline in time as less people used the train for transportation with the rise of the auto and it was closed in 1959. It still sits empty today further deteriorating with time. Its location on a bend in the tracks no longer meets station site codes. That along with prohibitive renovation costs necessitated building the new station just a bit to its southwest. After many years of campaigning, Pawtucket was finally able to secure the federal, state, and municipal funding for a new combined intermodal transportation center which included MBTA and RIPTA service. Ground was broken in 2018 and the process of construction around an extremely busy active stretch of track was slow. The $63M station will now open this Monday. MBTA trains will make 40 weekday and 18 weekend stops at the new Pawtucket-Central Falls Transit Center. It currently has 200 adjacent parking spaces with area available for future expansion. In addition to the trains, this facility will also become the RIPTA bus transfer point for the city of Pawtucket as it will move from the Slater Mill area on Roosevelt Ave.
The first station from the 1850's
The second station built 1872
The third station opened in 1916
The fourth and present station opened in January-2023