Interlink rail service to be part of Patriots home game advantage
New England Patriots fans needn’t drive any further than Warwick to get to home games at Gillette Stadium this season thanks to an arrangement for rail service from the Interlink. And, similarly, fans from visiting teams will be able to fly into Green, stay in a Warwick hotel and know they can hop a train to the stadium for $15, round trip.
Stephen Devine, chief of intermodal planning at the state Department of Transportation, had hoped to have the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority launch the train service last year, but, as he said Friday, there are a lot of moving parts to extend the home game service from Providence to Warwick and it’s not as easy as it would seem. The service must be coordinated with Amtrak.
“It’s fortunate that most of them [the games] are on Sunday. It does provide more of a window,” Devine said. On Sundays, trains would leave Warwick at 10:30 a.m. and arrive at the stadium at 12:05 p.m. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the platform to the stadium. On the way, the train would make stops at Providence, South Attleboro, Attleboro and Mansfield.
On the return, the train would leave a half hour after the game, regardless of whether it goes into overtime or not. The service starts on Sept. 16, when the Patriots play their first home game against the Arizona Cardinals. The last home game is against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 30.
Devine has ridden the service from Providence and found it popular.
“It is heavily used. By Mansfield, it is full,” he said.
Devine expects MBTA will use two-level train cars that seat 220 each and that trains will have nine cars each.
The run for the Patriots will also give Warwick its first weekend rail service since the MBTA started service to the Interlink.
“We are trying to grow the system in stages,” Devine said.
Earlier this year when service was extended to Wickford, the DOT forecast a decline in ridership at the Warwick station, as commuters from south of Providence chose to use that station. That didn’t happen. Also, during the summer, the Interlink saw an up-tick in riders. With 11 roundtrips per weekday, the service is averaging 220 riders a day.
The city’s director of economic development and tourism, Karen Jedson, enthusiastically greeted the news that home game service would be available from Warwick. She knew of efforts to initiate the rides and sees the potential of marketing Warwick as a destination to out-of-state Patriots fans or fans from other teams planning to attend a game at Gillette.
Peter Frazier, interim president of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, who informed the RIAC board of the development on Thursday said, “This is the symbiotic relationship we are looking for with the community.”
A complete schedule of MBTA service, including Patriots games, is available on their website.