I always thought Reading would be a one-off, but here we are with another Commuter Rail station. Waltham is a Zone 2 station on the Fitchburg Line, fairly close to Boston. It’s a pretty major bus hub, which is how I got here in the first place. The area where you actually catch the buses isn’t anything special, though, just a shelter. And most of the buses that serve Waltham are weekday-only expresses. So…not that impressive.
The station itself is pretty humble, too. It’s also really weirdly laid out: the station is single-track (although it’s double on either end), with two separate platforms about a thousand feet apart from each other. One is for inbound trains, and one is for outbound. I don’t like the layout personally: I feel like trains should use the same platform, since the two seem to be pretty far apart.
|One of the shelters.|
The shelters are very similar to the one at Reading: cute, wooden, and high-floor. These shelters, unlike Reading, have intact “Will not clear man on side of car” signs, solving the mystery from Reading. Here in Waltham, there are individual parking lots for each, which is nice – 50 spaces in total. Both platforms have modern bus shelters too, even though trains don’t pick people up there.
|A big mismatch of stuff: a parking meter, a schedule, a random wastebasket, something, and a pointless shelter.|
The eastern side of the station has an interesting aspect: there’s a historic visitor’s center inside the old station building. You can get Commuter Rail tickets in there, as well as a number of brochures. At least, that’s what it looked like. I couldn’t completely tell because it was CLOSED. It was a weekday! Isn’t that when Commuter Rail tickets are most needed?
|The charming building is deceiving.|
There are two level crossings here, too, which are always fun. In busy downtown Waltham, there’s a huge traffic jam every time a train comes along. That said, it’s not easy (or cheap) to put the train below grade or in a tunnel. And I have lower standards for Commuter Rail stations anyway, so I’ll let Waltham off on this one.
|This looks delightfully gritty.|
Ridership: This station has the fourth-busiest ridership on the Fitchburg Line, according to Wikipedia, with 545 average weekday boardings. It seemed busy enough when I went.
Pros: I really like the wooden shelters, just like in Reading. The ridership seems high, too, and there are parking spaces aplenty.
Cons: I don’t like the weird single-track layout, nor do I like the fact that the visitor’s center was closed for some reason. But the fact that the two platforms are 1000 feet apart is the worst thing about this station, in my opinion.
Nearby and Noteworthy: I really wanted to see what the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation is like, but I wanted to catch the 170. The museum seems really interesting, though. Maybe I could’ve found out more if the visitor’s center had been open.
Final Verdict: 6/10
Both Reading and Waltham have really quaint shelters, there’s no denying that. But whereas Waltham has two that are pretty far apart, Reading only has one which is why I gave it a 9. But Waltham’s two platform layout is just really annoying to me! Why not just use one to alleviate confusion? Also, that visitor’s center really should’ve been open. Really.
Latest MBTA News: Service Updates
Nothing much has happened, but the MBTA did put this interesting article on their website about the person who does all the automatic announcements, Frank Oglesby.
Can't lower the train tracks as the Charles River and Moody St. Dam are feet away. Train is single track so that B&M freight trains could fit under the bridge to the east. That could be fixed.