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Providence station

Providence, RI
Providence station in 2015
General information
Location100 Gaspee Street
Providence, Rhode Island
United States
Coordinates41°49′45″N 71°24′48″W / 41.82909°N 71.41325°W / 41.82909; -71.41325
Owned byAmtrak
Line(s)Amtrak Northeast Corridor
Platforms2 island platforms
Tracks5 (4 passenger; 1 freight)
ConnectionsBus transport RIPTA: R-Line, 3, 4, 50, 51, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 66, 72
Bus transport Amtrak Thruway
Bicycle facilitiesYes
Other information
Station codeAmtrak: PVD
FY 2022569,195 annually[1] (Amtrak)
20182,091 daily boardings[2] (MBTA)
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
New Haven Acela Route 128
Kingston Northeast Regional
Preceding station MBTA Following station
T. F. Green Airport Providence/​Stoughton Line Pawtucket/​Central Falls
Terminus Providence/​Stoughton Line
Special events
Pawtucket/​Central Falls
toward Foxboro
Former services
Preceding station New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Following station
East Greenwich
toward New Haven
Shore Line Pawtucket-Central Falls
toward Boston
Pawtucket-Central Falls
toward Worcester
Providence and Worcester Railroad Terminus
toward Hartford
New York and New England Railroad
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
New Haven
toward New York
Cape Codder
toward Hyannis
toward Hyannis
East Greenwich
toward New Haven
Beacon Hill Route 128

Providence station is a railroad station in Providence, Rhode Island, served by Amtrak and MBTA Commuter Rail. The station has four tracks and two island platforms for passenger service, with a fifth track passing through for Providence and Worcester Railroad freight trains. It is now the 11th busiest Amtrak station in the country, and the second-busiest on the MBTA Commuter Rail system outside of Boston.[2][3]

The station was built in 1986, replacing the former Union Station, during a project to remove elevated tracks from downtown Providence. It is fully accessible for all trains.

Design and service

The domed interior of the station

The station was designed in the Washington, D.C. office of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill by Milo Meacham under the direction of Marilyn Jordan Taylor. It is a simple building in the brutalist style, with a large square clocktower. Although largely subterranean and lacking the grand scale that was possible when Union Station was built in 1898, the station has been positively received by critics. The project received a citation in the 1983 Progressive Architecture Awards. Local architectural historian William McKenzie Woodward lauded the building for its aesthetics, calling its saucer dome "an obvious yet very gracious gesture toward the State House".[4] In 2010, Architect praised the forethought of the designers in planning for the revitalization of Providence's downtown, saying that "[i]ts design accommodated the complex geometries of a circulation pattern oriented toward the Capitol and a structure aligned with the tracks, while its splayed plan opened out to what was then an imagined city, one that Providence eventually made happen."[5]

Providence station is served by two Amtrak intercity routes – Acela Express and the Northeast Regional – both of which run between Boston and Washington, D.C. Amtrak Thruway bus service connects Providence with Worcester and New Bedford.[6] It is also served by MBTA Commuter Rail Providence/Stoughton Line commuter service, which runs between Wickford Junction and Boston. Providence is the southern terminus of some weekday service and all weekend service on the line. In a 2018 count, Providence averaged 2,091 inbound MBTA passengers on weekdays, making it the second-busiest station on the system (after Salem) outside of Boston[2]

The station has four passenger tracks serving two island platforms, plus the FRIP (Freight Rail Improvement Project) freight track on the west side. The south platform is usually used by Amtrak, while the north platform is usually used by the MBTA. The FRIP track is used by Providence and Worcester Railroad freight trains, plus MBTA trains south of Providence station.[7]

Kennedy Plaza, the main hub for RIPTA bus service, is located one-quarter mile (0.4 km) to the south along Exchange Street. RIPTA routes R-Line, 3, 4, 51, 54, 58, 66, and 72 stop at the south side of Providence station on Park Row; routes 50, 55, 56, and 57 stop on Gaspee Street on the north side of the station.


The second Union Station, which has been renovated for other uses

Providence's first railroad station was built in 1835 by the Boston and Providence Railroad at India Point.[8] The Providence and Stonington built a depot at Crary Street in South Providence in 1838, and the two were soon connected by a ferry service.[8]

The first through service stopped at Union Station, a brick edifice built in 1847 by the Providence & Worcester, Providence & Stonington, and Boston & Providence Railroads. It was designed by 21-year-old architect Thomas Alexander Tefft.[8] The building was lost to fire in 1896 and was replaced by a larger Union Station, completed in 1898 by the New Haven Railroad. It consisted of five large brick structures, which still form the northern side of Kennedy Plaza in the center of Downtown Providence.

Amtrak has served Providence since its inception in 1971, with Northeast Corridor trains from Boston to New York and Washington. Local commuter service - both intrastate service and service to Boston - has been intermittent during this era. After Penn Central discontinued its New London-to-Boston commuter train in 1972, Rhode Island sponsored a short-lived Westerly-to-Providence service (which lasted until 1979) in addition to the MBTA's Providence-to-Boston service.[9] Sunday service ended in October 1977 and off-peak and Saturday service ended in April 1979 due to Rhode Island's limited subsidies; rush-hour service ceased on February 20, 1981.[9]

In 1986, the Northeast Corridor through Providence was relocated north to free up land from a mass of elevated tracks, popularly called the "Chinese Wall," that had hemmed in downtown Providence. The new and smaller station was built across Gaspee Street from the Rhode Island State House. The five tracks and two platforms are located below ground level underneath the station building.

Rush-hour MBTA commuter service began again (to the new station) in February 1988, with off-peak service added in December 2000 and weekend service added in July 2006.[9] A new layover facility for MBTA commuter trains, located north of the station in Pawtucket, opened in 2006, allowing the MBTA to increase service to the city. Service was further extended to T.F. Green Airport in December 2010 and to Wickford Junction in April 2012.[9] Additionally, some game-day service to Foxboro has run from Providence since 1997, as well as from 1971 to 1973.[10][11][12][13] Special trains run for New England Patriots football games as well as some New England Revolution soccer games and college sporting events. The first revenue Acela Express service to Providence was on December 11, 2000, concurrent with the expansion of MBTA service.[9]

In August 2019, the Federal Railroad Administration awarded RIDOT up to $12.5 million for a 'major rehabilitation' of the station.[14] The $25 million project is also funded by RIDOT ($5.25 million) and Amtrak ($7.25 million).[15]


  1. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2022: State of Rhode Island" (PDF). Amtrak. June 2023. Retrieved August 30, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c Central Transportation Planning Staff (2019). "2018 Commuter Rail Counts". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
  3. ^ "Amtrak National Facts". Amtrak. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  4. ^ Woodward, William McKenzie (2003). Guide to Providence Architecture'. Providence Preservation Society. pp. 303–304. ISBN 9780974284705.
  5. ^ Fisher, Thomas (16 February 2010). "Providence in Providence". Architect. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Amtrak Introduces New Round Trip Bus Service for New Bedford and Worcester, Mass. Via Providence" (Press release). Amtrak. August 3, 2023.
  7. ^ The NEC Master Plan Working Group (May 2010). "The Northeast Corridor Infrastructure Master Plan" (PDF). Part II: page 7. Amtrak.
  9. ^ a b c d e Belcher, Jonathan. "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). Boston Street Railway Association.
  10. ^ Plotkin, A.S. (August 11, 1971). "Parking facilities can handle 15,000 cars hopefully, so can Rte. 1's four lanes". Boston Globe. p. 51 – via Open access icon
  11. ^ "Patriots halt train service". Boston Globe. October 25, 1973. p. 50 – via
  12. ^ "[Advertisement]". Boston Globe. October 11, 1996. p. 90 – via
  13. ^ "If you're going to the game..." Boston Globe. September 14, 1997. p. 64 – via
  14. ^ "U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces $272 Million in 'State of Good Repair' Program Grants" (Press release). Federal Railroad Administration. August 21, 2019.
  15. ^ Anderson, Patrick (August 19, 2019). "Arriving soon: $25M makeover at Providence Station". Providence Journal.

Further reading

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Providence station
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