Appendix D

Glossary of Technical Terms



Americans with Disabilities Act passed by Congress in 1990 ensuring egalitarian access to buildings, transit, and public services for people with disabilities.


Brockton Area Transit Authority


An infrastructure element that lowers the capacity of other elements- for instance, a section of single track in an otherwise double-tracked line

Capacity (service)

The theoretical number of users that a particular system can serve in a given span of time

Capital investment

Money spent on durable elements of a system, not on day-to-day operations

Clockface (scheduling)

Scheduling in which trains (or buses) repeat precisely every fixed interval. For example, if an inbound train leaves your station at 9:50 am under a 20-minute clockface schedule, then an inbound train will leave your station at :10, :30, and :50 every hour making the exact same stops.

Construction cost

The cost to build or implement new infrastructure

Corridor (rail)

Right-of-way in which a train operates


Diesel Multiple Unit, a train that runs using diesel engines to self-propel each individual railcar.

Double track

Having 2 tracks, enabling inbound and outbound service to use separate tracks; adding a second track means trains going one direction don’t have to wait for trains going the other direction, which greatly constrains capacity and can often exacerbate delays

Dwell time

The amount of time a train spends at the station platform Electrification Building of electric power infrastructure along rail corridors


Electric Multiple Unit, a train that runs on electric power to self-propel each individual railcar


Fiscal Management Control Board (of the MBTA)


A common model of EMU made by Stadler Rail

Frequency (of service)

How often service arrives


Freight Rail Improvement Project

Full accessibility

Complete compliance with ADA and local guidelines enabling persons with a range of disabilities to have universal access to transit modes

Gateway Cities

“Mid-size urban centers that anchor regional economies around the state,” facing “stubborn social and economic challenges,” while retaining “many assets with unrealized potential” as defined by the Brookings Institution & MassINC


Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority

High-level platform

Platform that is raised to meet the level of the entrance to a train, so as to enable level boarding

Infill stop

A new train stop that is built between two existing stops

Intercity rail

A rail network in which multiple cities are connected to each other with frequent rail service


Time spent by a train stationary at a terminal station or in a yard

Level boarding

Boarding a train at the same level as the platform with no barriers or steps, enabling full accessibility between the platform and the train; this can be installed as part of ADA accessibility, but is also a feature of some inaccessible stations (such as inaccessible subway stations)

Low-level platform

A platform which is at the same level as the tracks, requiring riders to walk up steps to enter a train. Lowlevel platforms are not ADA-compliant


Metropolitan Area Planning Council


Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Metro(politan) Boston

Area roughly equivalent to the MBTA service area covered by existing Commuter Rail service, as defined by MAPC

Mini-high platform

A high-level platform, about two-thirds of a car long, that is constructed at a station with an existing low-level platform to enable level boarding for persons with disabilities

Mode share

The proportion of users in a corridor who travel by a given mode of transport


Northeast Corridor, the electrified rail corridor currently in use by the Providence Line on Commuter Rail as well as Amtrak service between Boston & Providence


North-South Rail Link, a 2-mile tunnel connecting North & South Stations currently being studied by MassDOT

Operating cost

The cost to run rail service Peak service Service during “rush-hour” periods, roughly between 6-9 AM and 4-7 PM


Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, a state-owned public transport operator in France operating the Paris Metro and many other public transit services in the Paris region


Réseau Express Régional, a hybrid suburban commuter/rapid transit system serving Paris, France and its suburbs


The physical space dedicated to a railroad, highway, or other transportation corridor


Rhode Island Public Transit Authority

Rolling stock

Vehicles used on a railroad


Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority

Single track

Having 1 track, meaning that inbound and outbound service have to share a single track, thus hindering service frequencies


Société nationale des chemins de fer français, France’s national state-owned railway company, which operates rail service throughout the country

South Station Expansion

A plan currently being considered by MassDOT which would expand the South Station stub-end terminal to 20 tracks, with an estimated cost of $2 billion dollars. If built, the expansion would hinder the potential to implement regional rail service.


When two trains are scheduled precisely to be at a specific place for any of the following purposes:

Meet - When two trains in opposite directions on a mostly single-track line are timed to pass each other on a short double-track segment

Overtake - When a slow and a fast train in the same direction are timed so that the fast train will overtake the slow train on a segment with passing tracks (often four tracks on a double-track line)

Transfer - When two trains, in any direction, are timed to stop at a station at the same time, allowing passengers to connect between them, typically across the same platform


Transit-oriented development, a development centered around public transit, often featuring higher density and less parking than the surrounding community

Walkable neighborhood

A neighborhood in which everyday commercial and social trips can be achieved by walking, often in conjunction with public transit