The Southern New England Railway was never actually a railway. Rather, it proved to be the ill-fated attempt by the Grand Trunk Railroad to disrupt established and stiff railroad competition in the burgeoning New England market. By the time the SNER was chartered and plotted in 1910, three other railroad lines were already operating in the same territory, serving the same port (Providence, RI), all while traversing routes selected for their operational benefits. Moreover, had the SNER come to fruition, due to the proximity of those existing lines, multiple bridges and undercuts would have been necessary wherever a SNER junction was needed.
Prospects worsened when the railroad man leading the charge, Charles Melville Hays, went down with the Titanic in April of 1912. His grand visions for the SNER indeed went down with the ship.
Even so, in the face of these apparent obstacles and setbacks, grading began on the SNER in earnest, starting at a connection with the existing GTRR in Palmer, MA, and working its way westward toward Providence (while avoiding Connecticut, the home state of its primary competitor, the New Haven Railroad). And in fact, all of the grading in Massachusetts, right up to the Rhode Island border near Woonsocket, was completed; some concrete bridge piers (but without their bridges) were also built. However, financial turmoil, a world war, indecision between the Grand Trunk Railroad and its owner, the Canadian National Railroad, about what to do with the SNER, and ultimately the Great Depression, all worked against the SNER and brought construction progress to a halt. Despite the significant grading effort carried out in Massachusetts, nary a single rail was laid.
The map on this page shows only the anticipated right-of-way of the SNER, wholly within Massachusetts, and as identified on USGS topographical maps.
Today, the grading of the SNER, now over 100 years old, is still prominent in some places if one knows where to look. Some grading has been lost to time with erosion and urban development, and evidence of it continues to decay. Otherwise, only a few random concrete piers can be found along the right-of-way. All physical reminders of the railroad that never was.