The Connecticut Railfan: All About Railroads in Connecticut

Connecticut Railfan

Welcome to the Connecticut Railfan WebSite

Here's a preview of some of the exciting projects we have put together for you:

Our feature article is "Railroads of Connecticut" .

You should see our historical sketch of the New Haven Railroad and follow Connecticut railroads on Google Earth .

For those interested in the New Haven Railroad, we have 1937 and 1949 Fan Trips . For a modern prospective, we offer "Connecticut Freight Railroads and the Towns they Serve" and extensive coverage of railroad stations in Connecticut .

Next, we cover specific railroads and towns. Pick from this list: Canal Line in New Haven
Hawleyville: 1886 Rail Center
Old Railroads of Connecticut
Connecticut Railroad Branch Lines
Railroads in Monroe Connecticut
Railroads to Winsted Connecticut
Connecticut Central Railroad
Railroad From Norwalk, Connecticut to Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Finally, some specific areas of interest:
Bridgeport General Electric
Bar Cars on the New Haven Railroad
Did you know that the Poughkeepsie Bridge got off to a slow start ?

Find out about freight on the Maybrook and what's up with the Maybrook today .

Express on the New Haven Railroad .

RPO's on the New Haven .

Read all about a 2006 Trip to Waterbury

The End of the Bar Car

Metro-North Commuter Railroad

See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History

Poughkeepsie Bridge got off to a slow start

From "Railroad Gazette" at the NY Public Library- On page 33 of the 1-10-1890 issue there was a short news item to the effect that CNJ had begun routing both New England-bound freight and mail via the Poughkeepsie Bridge (which had opened the summer before). The routing was via the Pennsy at Phillipsburg to Belvedere and the Lehigh & Hudson River to Maybrook. Connecting CNJ passenger service was already being operated via the Poughkeepsie Bridge, the Gazette reported. No mention of through cars, just connections.

In the February 21 issue Gazette blamed the Poughkeepsie Bridge Route's poor financial showing in part on the fact that only Jersey Central (via Lehigh & Hudson River "which it controls") had shown any real willingness to favor the new bridge route for freight including coal. Anthracite traffic - the reason for building the bridge in the first place - was at disappointing levels. For one thing, there wasn't a ton of New England-bound Pennsylvania hard coal that some carrier wasn't fighting for. Of the six million tons of hard coal shipped to New England in 1889 five million tons completed its journey by water. Of the remaining one million tons, the Erie-NY&NE route (via a Newburgh-Fishkill car float operation) had half of it.

As for the Lehigh & New England, built to connect the Pennsylvania hard coal mines to the bridge, its performance had been disappointing too. The road was only hauling about 30 coal loads a day from the Reading to Campbell Hall, much less than hoped for. LNE was also handling DL&W's coal traffic to Campbell Hall - via a connection at Portland Pa. - but without citing figures Gazette indicated that this traffic too was smaller than hoped.
From the collection of the late Austin McEntee

This view of the deck on top of the finished bridge shows the City of Poughkeepsie in the background.

Click here to see more about the Poughkeepsie Bridge..
Corsica Ferry

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Corsica Ferry

2006 Trip to Waterbury

Like Mead's trips to Choate; this writer asks questions about the route; but here, readers respond with answers.

1. I have been to Grand Central Terminal a few times, but never got to look around as I had to run to catch this train. But how many ticket machines are actually in the terminal? I guess it is mostly ticket windows here?

Too many, I dont have an official count. The blue ones sell tickets that are daily. You know, one ways, round trips, MetroCard connections etc, but DEBIT AND CREDIT CARD ONLY! Red machines do same as blue except they accept cash in addition to debit and credit. Gray machines sell all including monthlys weeklys and such.

2. "60/50" is in a blue font attached to a catenary pole. What is the significance?

I believe I recall those being signs indicating the restricting speeds when there are conditions (heat, ice) that affect the wire.

That is a speed restriction that when the DTOBO indicates level one is in effect, you are to operate at that posted speed restriction. I believe higher speed applies to passenger trains, lower speed applies to freight and non passenger equipment. DTOBO means Daily Train Operations Bulletin Order, something Train and Engine crews must read and have a copy of daily includes speed restrictions and any special instructions in effect for that day, etc a DPO (DROP PANTOGRAPH ORDER).

Four possible levels of weather/temp restriction: Level 1 is 60 mph on the eight (8) temperature or "Q" curves for all electric trains, all other levels are 50 mph on those curves, plus additional restrictions on MAS. Hudson & Harlem Lines are exempt from Levels 1,2 and 3. An interesting change from past restrictions is level 4, applies to all trains, on all Lines, not just New Haven electric trains, and gives MAS as 80 mph, plus there may be additional limits per DTOBO or RTC.

3. A truck that can ride on the rails (what are these called?) sat on the inbound local track (what is the track #?) somewhere before South Norwalk. I've noticed workers were looking at the catenary and so platform extensions were present in the affected stations. What kind of "wire inspection" was this?

This is catenary replacement in effect between South Norwalk and Noroton Heights. What you saw was bridgeplates, all of the railroads have them that you know most. LIRR, NJ TRANSIT, AMTRAK, AND METRO NORTH. You saw track 3 is OUT OF SERVICE, and all trains are operating west on track one, matching those contractor plates. They are contractor plates because they expect the track to be out continuously according to the P.A. operator bulletins from the Rail Traffic Controllers(RTC).

4. What is the catenary voltage on the portion to New Haven?

The New Haven line uses 12,500 volt-60 cycle power, and the Amtrak Hell Gate line uses 12,000 volt-25 cycle power

5. Who owns the trackage from where Amtrak joins Metro-North to New Haven? Is it all Metro-North?

I believe Amtrak owns the Hell Gate line until Catenary pole 62 where MTA METRO NORTH takes over. They enter at 15 miles an hour due to puzzle switches with movable frog points, diverting speed is 15 mph, has nothing to do with power change as thats further down road towards Pelham Bay.

Metro-North only owns the northern-most quarter of a mile or so of that line (basically, there's a switch from track 2 to track 1 and a set of MNRR-style dwarf signals, and everything south of that is Amtrak property). The actual voltage change, however, is at Catenary Pole 72, which is approximately MP 10.7, just south of the Bronx River bridge (it's right where the Hunts Point Cooperative Market yard connects to the industrial track which runs aside the Amtrak tracks)

6. What are the Normal speeds east of South Norwalk?

I believe there is a 45 mph restriction over the Walk Bridge, and speed is about 75.

7. A track diverges into a thick shroud of trees and a rusty bumper block track sits shortly after Fairfield. Details?

Probably a old railroad siding that is no longer in service, probably from the Fallen Flag New Haven Railroad.

8. Our connecting Waterbury train was an Amtrak Genesis #842 with two Virginia Railway Express cars (#202 & 219) and CDOT Shoreliner #1691. Is this the normal consist for the Waterbury train? And why the variety of equipment?

You caught the mid-day rotation in which a Shore Line East set takes over for the regular shuttle. Why the variety? Because. Leased Amtrak unit, and recently purchased VRE cars.

Is this the normal consist for the Waterbury train? Well what happens is, according to the run, they take what equipment is available, because the train comes from New Haven Yard, and the morning crew takes out everything from 1935-1963, deadheads back. Equipment could be Metro North mini Bomb(BOMBARDIER) train. It could be a MNR BOMB with Amtrak engine, or a CDOT equipment (THE EQUIPMENT U SEE ON SHORELINE EAST)

The VRE cars were built in early 1990's but were not used till 1996, the cars are Budd Designed but built at Mafersa in Brasil. The lexan windows 10 years ago were not as hard as today and with washing the brake dust and metal would etch the lexan in the wash.

9. I've noticed that it has been "forever" since the windows on the VRE cars were washed as they were opaque looking. How old are these cars, and why weren't the windows ever washed?

Why werent they washed? New Haven does not have a wash, only wash on New Haven line is in Stamford.

10. Series of rusted tracks shortly after Stratford and hoppers of some kind?

Rusty Tracks, again probably leftovers from Cash Strapped NEW HAVEN RAILROAD. HOPPER CARS? Probably left by AMMO or PMMO switcher.

11. What is the normal speed on the Waterbury Branch?

Normal speed is about 59, but remember restrictions are around so.

12. Track diverges from ROW right before Derby-Shelton and joins the ROW shortly after. Is this a wye of some kind?

Yes its a wye, but it is the access to the former NHRR Maybrook line.

Freights such as the Providence & Worchester use it.

13. Rusted track beside ROW after Derby-Shelton. Another rusted track joins the Branch and a short rusted bumper track exists. Significances?

I believe you might be talking about the siding and track connecting with the Maybrook Railroad at HAT block limit.

14. Rusted tracks between Derby-Shelton and Ansonia. ?

part of the old yard (just a few tracks)

15. Two out-of-commission tracks after Ansonia and a track joins from a factory.

industrial sidings Again leftovers from NEW HAVEN RAILROAD

16. Rusted tracks after Beacon Falls.

Tracks were recently repaired and bus service ran for like 3 weeks. Alot of our rails will be rusted and old.

17. Are the tracks at Waterbury supposed to be some kind of a yard?

Does it look like a yard...? Uh yeah, it is "some kind of a yard". It was the former NHRR yard and the engine facilities were north of there.

18. Where do the tracks beyond Waterbury lead? I've seen also a bumper track beside the platformed track north of the station.

At one time to around Torrington or so.

19. "END OF BLOCK" at Waterbury. What does this mean?

It means END OF BLOCK....thats the end of a MN trackage block.

20. Rusted and unused tracks between Waterbury and Naugatuck.

What about them? Yes, there is a lot of infrastructure left over from the NHRR days. This was Waterbury Lower Siding.

21. A milepost reads "22" at Naugatuck. Where is its origin?

CP500 is where the mileposts begin I believe. Thats the turn the Waterburys make after leaving Devon bridge.

22. An unusual-looking sign with a yellow square and a red square next to each other and below it reads "BEAK" at Beacon Falls.

Location sign...BEAK = short name for BEACON FALLS...

That is what you call a BLOCK LIMIT. It allows the RTC to determine where you are, and where other trains are in relation toward you. EXAMPLE IF RTC GIVES YOU A M FORM WITH CLEAR BLOCK TO BEAK, you do NOT have authorization to pass that BEAK block limit. STOP YOUR TRAIN.

23. Three tank cars sat by Beacon Falls and a bumper block track is here as well.

Remember I told you waterbury had to be rebuilt around beacon falls? Its because the tracks were washed out, and had to be rebuilt using the supplies you saw in those cars.

24. Bumper track beside Seymour station.

Thats called a SIDING...lots of them around...not very rare..

25. MP 9 at Derby. I guess connects with question #21.

Um, put 2+2 together and you get Devon as the origin, Derby as MP9, and Naugatuck at MP22...

Yes it does, same thing. 9 miles from Devon at CP500, the turn.

26. A similar trainset to our Waterbury train moves fast eastward past Darien around 4:45p. Where was this train headed?

Stamford as part of the Shore Line East rotations.

Probably deadheading to a yard or another assignment. Railroad is always moving.

27. A Metro-North FL9 with 2 Shoreliners were spotted at Stamford. How many MN FL9's are there in service and what are their performance ratings?

Check the FL-9 thread at the top of the MN forum....

28. In addition, another "trio" of an Amtrak Genesis, two VRE cars, and CDOT Shoreliner trainset was spotted at Stamford. Where did this come from?

Shore Line East...Stamford>New London (most terminate at Old Saybrook though)

Probably Stamford yard, or another yard. They always keep spare bombs for when a train dies. IF NOT ITS BUS SERVICE AGAIN!

A summary:

The engine facilities at the end of the NHRR were next to the passenger station but earlier on, the round house was south of the station (NHRR west) but were not really visible from the line to Bridgeport. Yes, if you knew where to look, you could see the exterior of the round house building but the round house itself was located on the old line to Southbury and points west. The round house was closed in the summer of 1958, later on it was demolished and the property was sold, almost no trace of it remains today.

There were a lot of yard tracks around Derby and some more in Ansonia and Naugatuck and these were all very active years ago as the valley was a hotbed of industry. In addition, up until 1950 this entire line was double track.
CNE Bus Tour 2007 Rudberg Research Collection of the Central New England Railway. Dates: 2002-2011.

Dates: 2002-2010.
Quantity: .75 linear feet.
Abstract: The collection consists of tour guidebooks compiled by Bernard L. Rudberg of photocopies of photographs, maps, correspondence, and documents related to the history of the Central New England Railway, which ran from Maybrook, New York, to Hartford, Connecticut, in the period between 1898 and 1927, at which point it was taken over by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Mr. Rudberg creates the books for the participants of an annual guided bus tour he coordinates, in April or May of each year beginning in 2002, that follows portions of the old railway line, and provides information about the towns on the route, train wrecks that occurred, old carbarns, turntables and roundhouses, and such features as the Poughkeepsie River Bridge.
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Cedar Hill Yard Driving north from New Haven, Cedar Hill yard cannot be overlooked. Its still used, but not to the extent it was 50 year ago. Imagine, over 9,000 cars handled on one day! Cedar Hill was built between 1910 and 1920. Cedar Hill became in the 1920's the keystone of the whole New Haven Railroad freight operation. It seems to have started out as a more local facility, then grown into that larger role. Or was the idea of making it the center part of the original intention?
Railroads in New York State

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Freight on the Maybrook

I always thought most of the traffic on the Maybrook was just overhead between Cedar Hill and Maybrook Yard, but following the New Haven Railroad Forum, I saw that there was also a good deal of local industry in the 1950's and 1960's.

Derby Junction (Shelton) to Newtown
Shelton was serviced by the Derby switcher.
Between Stevenson and Shelton there was nothing.

Newtown to Danbury
A Danbury-based local went east, serving the north end of Danbury, Hawleyville, Newtown, Botsford, Stevenson --- much as the Housatonic RR does today.

Danbury to Brewster
Omaha Beef Co. (Maple Ave. Danbury)
Danbury & Brewster Lumber Co. (between Maple Ave. & Main St., Danbury)
Goos Lumber (Main St., Danbury)
Mallory's (Danbury)
Leahy's LPG (Segar Street Fair Grounds)
Danbury Fair (did some business each year during Fair week in early October, which lasted through the 50s --Livestock cars and such)
Danbury Block & Supply (Fair Grounds)
Danbury & Brewster Lumber Co. (next to Rt. 22 overpass. Yes, same company as the identically named one in Danbury)
Durkin's Coal & Oil (at site of former NH Brewster station)
Brewster team track
A Danbury based switcher went as far west as Brewster.

Brewster to Hopewell Junction
Interchange with NYC at Brewster via the Put Junction connection lasted until about 1960
Holmes team track
Green Haven State Prison (took coal)
Bry Dain Lumber
Hopewell team track

Hopewell Junction to Poughkeepsie
Miron Lumber (at "Briggs," Titusville Road, Poughkeepsie)
Love Oil where the Maybrook crossed Route 44
A local out of Smith Street in Poughkeepsie served as far east as Green Haven Prison (coal); it also served the Beacon Branch, mon-fri,in the sixties
Interchange with NYC at Poughkeepsie was via the Hospital branch
There were two switchers based at Smith Street yard, one usually worked the area of Poughkeepsie and the switchback to NYC yard down by the river (known as P&E yard or CNE yard)
The Hospital Branch had several businesses including Western Printing which had two tracks going into an enclosed loading dock. T State Hospital received coal
Other industries in the Poughkeepsie area:
Sidell Coal Co.
Collingwood and Seaman
Feiganspan Co
R B Kelley
W T Reynolds Co
Nagle Knife Co
Smith Brothers
E A Underhill (coal)
Star Gas: 2 car siding
Hudson Casting: 1 car siding
J C Paper: 1 car siding
Federal Bearing: 2 tracks; 7 cars total
Poke Iron and Metal (scrap metal)
Washington Disc and Growers: 4 cars
Taconic Wholesale Groceries
Lomb Wood
Effron Scrap: several tracks
Wilder Lumber
Robats Boke
Interstate Plumbing Co

Poughkeepsie to Maybrook
Some industries in Highland, just over the Poughkeepsie bridge.
The Central New England Railway (later New Haven RR) Maybrook Yard connected to other railroads: Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, New York Central, Lehigh & Hudson River, Lehigh & New England, Erie, Ontario & Western, Lehigh Valley

The Central New England Railway Yard at Maybrook, New York

We have a really new and really cool feature about the Central New England Railway / New Haven Railroad. It is a Journal of the Maybrook Yard. All kinds of previously unpublished and fascinating things!

The Maybrook Line across Dutchess County The "Maybrook Line" was important to New England before the advent of Penn Central and before the Poughkeepsie Bridge burned. This piece of the railroad carried freight from Maybrook Yard, across the Poughkeepsie Bridge to Hopewell Junction where it joined a line from Beacon. The railroad then went to Brewster, then Danbury, and finally to Cedar Hill Yard in New Haven.

The New Haven's Maybrook Line and connections to other railroads

Railroad History of Maybrook Region
Old Lyme bridge

See our special section on New Haven Railroad Bridges along the Shore Line
and New Haven Signal Stations

Includes New Haven Railroad history from 1844 to 1967. How the Farmington Canal was converted to a railroad. Naugatuck Line and other abandoned railroads in Connecticut. The Essex Steam Train. Story of the 'Pullmans on a hill'
Niantic bridge
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Express on the New Haven Railroad

Pictures of New Haven trains of the 1950's always show a large number of express cars, both in on the line shots, and in yards. All kinds of valuable and perishable goods, along with little kids camp trunks, seem to have gone by express.

Express actually carried the passenger bottom line to the tune of about 35%. It was a real money maker and the RR's let it all slip away to UPS, DHL and Airborne express.

In the New York City (Bronx), there was a REA Facility at Harlem River, and PTX Sunnyside.

In Boston, there was an REA facility at South Station.

Solid REA/mail trains which were scheduled in the TT.

On the New York end, Railway Express was handled both in and out of Harlem River and also Sunnyside Yard. Not too long before the end of the NHRR, the express shed at Harlem River was shut down and the operation moved to Sunnyside Yard. Even in the late 1960's, Railway Express Agency was busy cutting back. Outside of the large terminals, REA handled business all over the place generally very close to the passenger stations and often part of the station was used.

In Waterbury, trains 442 and 465 both handled a lot of Railway Express and indeed had a messenger riding both trains between Bridgeport and Winsted. Railway Express was also handled on trains 131 and 136 between Boston and Waterbury. A car for REA also passed through Waterbury enroute from Bridgeport to New Britain but the return move was not made through Waterbury, the car most likely went by freight to either Hartford or maybe Berlin where it was picked up maybe by 99.

After the 1955 floods, the New Haven did not want to handle any express in Waterbury or New Britain but when the passenger trains returned in February, 1956, trains 465 and 442 were in the timebable between Bridgeport and Waterbury and REA returned with two Waterbury cars and a New Britain car and even the messenger returned. The car of express was towed from Waterbury to New Britain by train 460 with its two Budd Cars. This practice continued until the fall timetable change in 1956 when the railroad told REA that 465 and 442 were coming off and they did not care how REA got their shipments in or out of the Naugatuck Valley. 465 and 442 also handled a car of express in and out of Derby. Dragging that loaded REA car out of Waterbury by the two Budd Cars did not do the cars any good but management did not care. If they could have had their way, no passenger trains would have returned to Waterbury after the 1955 floods. Again, after the return in 1956, the New Britain car did not leave New Britain via Waterbury but probably went to Hartford via freight for further dispatch most likely on train 99. Railway Express operations on the Berkshire came to an end about the same time as the mail operations did in probably 1960. Back in the 1940's, trains 465 and 442 even handled an REA car in and out of Torrington at least some of the time.

Trains 141-144 had a rather strange express car operation --- it operated Pittsfield-Danbury and back. I don't know what kind of business it did.

Train 140 had two express cars. One operated NY-Danbury, and was switched out at Danbury with the power change. It usually was spotted on station track 8. You will see photos in some books that have been published (For example, see Trackside New Haven with Art Mitchell, p. 109) of that car laying over on station track 8, which presumably had been determined to be a convenient location for it to be loaded/unloaded.

Trains #140-143 had another express car that was an interesting operation. It was switched into #140 at Stamford, empty, and ran to Pittsfield. It was loaded at Pittsfield with paper consigned to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington --- one of the paper companies at Pittsfield had this contract with the government for some years. Since that paper was made to very particular specs and was quite valuable even before anything was printed on it, it this car also carried an armed guard. I am quite sure this operation continued into 1958, perhaps even all the way through 1958.

The Railway Express in NH at one time took up the entire wooden structure that was just east or north of the station. On the extreme east or north end was the NH crew dispatchers office and the train baggage room. The rest was all REA. Later years sometime, probably mid or late sixties I believe they moved to the freight house at Brewery St. I am not sure if they took over the entire freight house or just the open shed platform that was on the west or south end of the brick freight house.

Railway Express Agency was a unique operation and under definition was not in the same category as a railroad or truckline. The ICC had rules of operation that pertained only to "express companies" and after the consolidation of express companies during WWI American Railway Express Agency was the only express company. In 1927 the name was changed to Railway Express Agency. In return for a monopoly on the movement of traffic on passenger trains, the express company was obligated to accept any and all shipments destined anywhere in the U.S. At one time they had representatives in 27,000 communities, mostly railroad agents serving as commission agents. For places where they did not provide pick up and delivery service and had no representative, shipments were moved to the closest point served and postal cards were sent to the consignees telling them where their shipments were being held on hand for pick up. Shipper's Guides and tariffs would refer to these places as "waybill to" points. This was not an ideal situation for a shipper, but the number of shipments was small. UPS has limitations on what it will handle such as size and contents. REA had to take everything including hazardous material and Class A,B &C explosives. REA was saddled with a lot of undesirable traffic that truck lines would not handle, such as auto mufflers & tailpipes, ladders, rugs, etc. REA handled carloads of cattle, race horses, and trainloads of fruits and vegetables. Carloads of radioactive material were moved on regular schedules for the Atomic Energy Commission. There was practically nothing that was not handled at one time or another including circus animals.
New Haven Railroad's subsidiary New England Transportation Co (NET Co.). The company was created in 1925 and lasted until the Penn Central merger in 1969 as the rubber tired arm of the the New Haven Railroad in southern New England (they did not serve the areas of New York state through which NH ran, and the railroad had it's own trucks for LCL deliveries in that area).

The New England Transportation Company
Penn Central New Haven Railroad New York Central Railroad

Interested in Penn Central? New York Central? Pennsylvania Railroad? New Haven Railroad? or in the smaller Eastern US railroads? Then you will be interested in "What if the Penn Central Merger Did Not Happen". You will also enjoy "Could George Alpert have saved the New Haven?" as well as "What if the New Haven never merged with Penn Central?"


List of Connecticut Railroads
Providence & Worcester Railroad
Freight Train Companies in the U.S.
Connecticut Railfan LCL freight
The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad

See some historic photographs of the New Haven Railroad, Steam along the shore line, electrics through Connecticut, passenger runs into Grand Central, and much more.

Rail Restoration in Connecticut

The "Willimantic Line" is indeed the line from Willimantic to Plainfield via Versailles, which is currently being reactivated by the P&W.

The Hartford-Willimantic line is abandoned from a point in Manchester, east to Willimantic. It is land-banked by the state, meaning the state owns the ROW but the rails have been removed. In continuing CDOT's short-sighted thinking, when a bridge was replaced carrying Suicide 6 over the former ROW, it was replaced with a large tube, rather than a standard bridge. If service is ever reactivated, that'll have to come out.

Outside of these two lines, and the lower half of the Conn Valley Line from Saybrook up to Middletown, I cannot see any other abandoned lines in the state being reactivated. I think you'd get farther with getting trucks off the road by having different companies operate the lines. By this of course I mean the Pan-Am (B&M) cluster in Waterbury-Berlin. Provide lousy service and the customers will turn to trucks. Provide specialized local service (such as P&W) and you could lure them back. Problem there though is I believe Pan-Am/B&M own the rails.

Portland to Willimantic-- A rail trail. Won't EVER return to a rail use.

Willimantic to Putnam-- also a rail trail. And, no bridge over the river at Putnam-- that's why the route was severed after the 1955 flood took out the bridge.

There's no justification for either of those two routes anymore. Walk 'em and enjoy 'em that way.

I explored the area last fall around the Belle Docks, and unless you look around you don't see what is going on. There is a short end of track once you go over the bridge, and a small yard to boot. However, the building at the end of the trackage is due to be demolished at some point (for the rail project no less), and on the other side of the building a bit of track had been laid as well. Speaking with some of the guys at New Haven Terminal, there is supposed to be a reconnection of the trackage inside the oil terminal area (there still is the 45 tonner in there). If all goes as advertised, I can see quite a bit of traffic there.

Restoring Willimantic rail

New Haven Freight Cars

The New Haven Railroad in 1960 (according to Sweetland's book), owned:
5908 Boxcars
579 Hoppers
722 Gondolas
753 Flats
100 Covered Hoppers
8062 Total Freight Cars

Central New England

The line out of Hartford (known as the Connecticut Western when built) was completed to State Line (near Millerton, NY) in December of 1871. Trackage rights were obtained from there via the Dutchess & Columbia RR on in to Millerton itself. The distance between these two points was 68 miles and to begin with there were two daily except Sunday passenger trains in each direction. The morning train out of Hartford departed at 9:50am and took FOUR HOURS to get to Millerton. The afternoon train left Hartford at 3:40pm and beat the morning train's time in to Millerton by eight minutes. In the reverse, the morning train left Millerton at 6:00am and got to Hartford at 10:17am. It's afternoon counterpart left Millerton at 2:40pm getting to Hartford at 6:50pm.

In 1882 the then Hartford & Connecticut Western (successor to the Connecticut Western in 1881) bought the Rhinebeck & Connecticut RR that operated between Rhinecliff, NY and Boston Corners, NY. The R&C originally had a lease arrangement with the Poughkeepsie & Eastern (known in 1882 as the Poughkeepsie, Hartford & Boston) to operate between Boston Corners and State Line so that they could connect with the Connecticut Western. When the H&CW bought the R&C, they also negotiated to buy the section between Boston Corners and State Line so as to give them a through route of their own all the way to the Hudson River. Pennsylvania coal coming up to Kingston on the D&H Canal was the main reason the H&CW wanted a route to the Hudson River. The H&CW began to call their route "The Rhinebeck Line" and did start out with at least one through train in each direction between Hartford and Rhinecliff. In addition to this train, there were still two other trains operating in each direction between Hartford and Millerton. The big thing, though, at this time was that these trains were now only taking three hours to make the 68 miles rather than four hours when the line was first opened. The Rhinebeck Line, however, seems to have been downgraded in 1886 as a through passenger route because a timetable from that year indicates one must change in Canaan in order to travel between Rhinecliff and Hartford.

Danbury Line

Before the mid-1950's, there were (weekdays) 6 trains from S. Norwalk to Danbury. Two were Pittsfield trains, three were S. Norwalk-Danbury and one was Grand Central-Danbury. The Pittsfield trains were locomotive hauled so, the others were probably MU but, the GCT train might have been locomotive hauled. Electric MU shuttle service began between South Norwalk and Danbury in 1949 with 3 round trips per day, which within a year were reduced to two; than about 1955 to 1. From 1949-early 1954 the typical consist was a pair of heavyweights, a power coach and a trailer combine. Beginning in 1954 you would see a pair of Stainless ("washboard") MUs. Starting 1956 the service was reduced to a single car. Typically in the winter they used a heavyweight -- it was said that these had better traction in snow --- and in the summer a stainless car (air conditioned). Starting sometime in 1960 this service began to be handled by an RDC and so lasted into the Penn Central era. All (with a few very rare exceptions) Danbury-New York and Pittsfield-NY runs were locomotive hauled. Occasionally in the 50s on a summer weekend a MU would be chartered by some company's employee group in Danbury as a baseball special to NY. Presumably (my guess) the train took them to 125th St., and they then took the subway to Yankee Stadium. "The Berkshire Line" usually refers only to that line north of Danbury. The line between Danbury and South Norwalk was always known as "The Danbury Branch" or "The Danbury & Norwalk Line." The D&N was a separate entity from the Housatonic RR. However, in both passenger and employee timetables Norwalk-Pittsfield was treated as a single route; and the page heading in the passenger TT was "New York and the Berkshires."

Naugatuck Line

The (new) Naugatuck Railroad operates to Torrington on a regular basis. (See their schedule at The Haight Vineyard Wine Train service operates between Thomaston and Torrington, virtually year-round. The line operates to Torrington right to the very end of the existing rail-- the tail track (stub of the main line) coming off the north passing track switch is about 100 feet long, and after that there is about another 250-400 feet of right of way, and perhaps someday there may be another little bit of the Naugy to ride. The Torrington station still exists and is owned by the E.J. Kelly Bus Company. The original Kelley was the NYNH&H (or perhaps Naugatuck) station agent, and he had a side business operating a livery service that met the trains. That was apparently the start of what is now a charter bus operation. Now a little about previous traffic on the line:

1900: Five trains weekdays and two trains Sundays between Bridgeport and Winsted. Most required a change of trains in Bridgeport. Service to New York was over three hours so it wasn't too conducive to commuting. During that period of time Devon was called Naugatuck Jct. There were also two routes between Ansonia and Derby Jct. One was via East Derby and the other via Derby/Birmingham. There were also three trains that originated in Waterbury towards Bridgeport and return. Also ten trains weekdays and two trains Sundays between Waterbury and Watertown.

Cutback in service in 1914 with service about the same right up until 1926 when many Winsted - Bridgeport - Winsted trains are cut back to Waterbury. This cut in service coincided with the expansion of through New York - Boston service via Waterbury, Hartford and Willimantic. Only one Winsted - GCT - Winsted train and one Winsted - Bridgeport - Winsted train remains in service. Four of the Winsted - Waterbury - Winsted trains switch to gasoline rail cars.

In 1929 service was cut back north of Waterbury to four weekday roundtrips, then too three; with Sunday not changed.

As of 1932 the morning weekday train out of Grand Central for Winsted and the afternoon return only operates as far as Waterbury.

The last date for parlor car service on the Naugatuck appears to have been 1938.

The timetable of 1950 shows the termination of the Sunday only 8:00am departure from GCT, at Waterbury with just a bus connection beyond. This cut also affects the 7:30pm Sundays only out of GCT. It now terminates in Waterbury also. When the Sundays-only was reinstated back to Winsted again, there were no more facilities located in Winsted to overnight a train or crew, so a train was added the same date out of Winsted at 11:10pm and ran back to Waterbury arriving there at midnight.

The timetable of August, 1954 institutes the use of Budd cars ("Shoreliners") on some trains out of Bridgeport to beyond Waterbury. In October, 1954 the "Naugatuck" is cut back to run six days per week only and on Sundays it is replaced with a "Shoreliner". Major floods hit the Naugatuck River Valley in 1955 and service on the line was suspended for a period of time. A timetable for January, 1956 restores service south of Waterbury with "temporary" bus service beyond to/from Winsted. Winsted train service appears again in the timetable April, 1956; however, NO MORE THROUGH EQUIPMENT! All trains originate and terminate in Bridgeport and probably all are "Shoreliners" by this time. In October, 1956 the very early northbound out of Bridgeport (that was the newspaper, mail and express train for many years) is discontinued up to Waterbury BUT continues to run north of their to Winsted. That is the way things were until Saturday, December 3, 1958 when the last service north of Waterbury ran and busses were substituted thereafter.

Boston, Hartford & Erie

The Boston, Hartford & Erie was taken over by the New York & New England about 1873. I don't believe that they built west of Waterbury (possibly they got as far as Danbury) prior to being taken over. They did, however, lease the Dutchess & Columbia RR in Dutchess Co., NY (Dutchess Jct. near Beacon) to Millbrook, NY) from 868 to 1871. This lease ended when the BH&E went bankrupt. The BH&E was the Erie's attempt to get into Massachusetts. via the carfloats at Newburgh/Beacon, NY. Some grading had been done by BH&E in Dutchess County but it was opened by the NY&NE. The BH&E caused a scandal in the Mass. legislature due to the state's involvement. Many felt it was worthless from the outset as its line was longer in track-miles and hillier than any other route and offered no advantage. Later, I can't believe anyone physically walked this route before making the map! And, probably as a result, I'm sure it never came close to being funded or built. The route crosses some extremely challenging geography for just about its entire length! Take the segment between the Hudson and Harlem lines. Anyone who has driven I-84, Taconic, routes 52/55 knows the sizeable grades throughout this area. No one in their right mind would give a second thought to building a rail line through here. Same problem for the routing east of Dover Plains through southern Kent, upper Washington, and on towards Watertown. The geography to overcome in this CT region is also substantial.
Canal Line through New Haven

This old B&M "Burro" was stranded in the Milldale / Cheshire area of the Canal Line for a looong time. A bridge was out in the 80's and Guilford was not rushing to fix it.

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Connecticut's Shortline Railroads

Welcome to; the offical site for Connecticut Shortline Railroads. Feel free to post anything on shortlines in Connecticut. Specific companies covered by CTshortlines include: New England Central, Housatonic Railroad, Providence and Worcester, Guilford Rail System, CSX, Central New England, Connecticut Southern, Connecticut Central, Naugatuck Railroad, Valley Railroad, Danbury Rail Museum, Connecticut Trolley Museum, Amtrak

Find out about Witnesses and Fair Promise

A safety group is blasting the federal government for not doing enough to bring down the number of deaths in truck crashes.

According to the Truck Safety Coalition's report, the nation's highways are just as dangerous as they were seven years ago, when Congress created an agency to improve conditions for truck drivers and anyone who has to share the road with them.

Coalition spokesperson Joan Claybrook says the Motor Carrier Safety Administration "is still putting cargo over people," with truckers allowed to drive up to 11 hours a day.

"They really have failed the American public, and that's why we have so many crash deaths -- 5,200 a year, plus close to 130,000 severe injuries."

Connecticut is not among the most dangerous states on the report's list, but getting more trucks off the road and freight onto the rails would help.

What will cause a move back to railroads will be the inevitable decline of oil supplies, environmental concerns, and lack of highway capacity. Gasoline and diesel will become so expensive in the next decade that companies will begin to look for cheaper, more efficient ways to transport freight then trucks. Tree huggers will also go after the trucking industry for pollution, "global warming", and safety concerns.

Already the railroad passenger business between New Haven and NYC is booming. The state of CT can not keep up with the demand for new passenger cars for Metro North. The state just ordered a couple of hundred passenger cars a year or two ago. It would be interesting to see a comparison between the total passengers served by Metro North today versus the total passengers during the 1920's between New Haven and NYC.

In 1957 there were over 70 through freight trains operating all over the place on the New Haven Railroad on a daily basis. Today, in 2008 there is not one remaining through freight train anywhere on the former New Haven Railroad and this is not likely to change.

What I am talking about are scheduled, regular symbol freight trains that do not do local work. The Providence and Worcester runs a stone train once or twice a week between Cedar Hill or somewhere and the LIRR at Fremont but it is not a regular run. What they run on the Norwich Branch or between New Haven and Groton again does not qualify as a through freight train. Even in the New Haven Railroad days, some local freight trains ran very heavy with oil, stone or something else and required more than one unit too. They were still local freight trains and not through freight trains.

When aggregates are discounted, there are only about 100 carloads of rail freight originated or terminated in the entire state each day, averaged over 365 days per year.

What's happening is that the highways are getting filled up a little more every year. There has also been little in the way of roadway capacity increases. Between regulation and heavy development around the existing highways, it becomes difficult to add an extra lane to increase capacity. Sooner or later something has to give. The way it's looking now, I don't think highways will be the solution. Freight may end up moving back to rails, but I don't think it will resemble patterns of the past.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey seems to be pretty serious about a freight tunnel under the Hudson River. There is continuing discussion of a second Tappan Zee bridge that would include a rail line. This could be used to route the Port Jervis trains off the former Erie to the NYC to enter GCT. I'm sure NYDOT would love to keep this operation completely within NY State. There is also talk of extending this line to the NH line somewhere near the NY/CT border.

By Ken Kinlock at
Amtrak work locomotives

In Connecticut, freight has to compete with passenger. The "Shoreline" carries high speed Amtrak, Metro North commuters, and the "Shoreline East"

Not Everyone Happy with PAR/ST/GRS (Guilford)

Maybe PAR/ST/GRS should worry more about CUSTOMER SERVICE then changing names! Farmington ready- Mix wanted to keep rail and so did Sanford & Haley (in Avon), but nope GRS didn't want it. Buzzuto's (IGA) wanted to get food products and LesCare kitchen wanted wood for cabinets delivered by rail, but GRS said nope... now Tilcon stopped shipping from Plainville. P&W, NEC,COS and HRR are all increasing rail frieght. Even the CZNR (Central New England) is trying to create business - and NRR would like to create business for frieght. Here is what the governor should do:

1) Tell GRS it was nice to know them but tell them their service is no longer needed.

2) Give NRR Frieght rights from Torrington to Derby. 3) Rebuild the track from Buzzuto to Farmington and let CZNR operate it. 4) Give CSO the Berlin to Waterbury line. With CSO trying to get business, I think AmeriGas - and TilCon would be happy. 5) Give P&W/CSO/NECR frieght rights to the Manchester - Willimantic route (that PC illegally pulled up the track on). Then the casinos could send passenger trains from Bradley to Norwich (or New London!).

A half-century ago, everything in Connecticut was under the New Haven Railroad.

Today is a lot different, Amtrak, Metro-North., several freight-only railroads and even some abandoned lines that could be re-started.. Check out the best available map of all these with the Connecticut CDOT rail map.

Freight West of Bridgeport

The railroad through Connecticut from New Haven to New York State line is served by CSX. They run one job (B747/748) out of CEDAR HILL. These jobs have working limits ONLY as far WEST as MP-QV-40 (CP240, South Norwalk). CSX has another job (B-750) out of Croton which only has working limits as far EAST as MP-QV-41 (CP-241, South Norwalk).

The only reason these two jobs overlap by that one mile is so that they may both work to run around their trains at South Norwalk if that was ever needed.

The Cedar Hill jobs just about never come west of Bridgeport.

As of August, 2006, Ring's End Darien is closed to rail traffic. This is because bridge plates are up in the area, placing track three out of service.

It has been speculated that Connecticut Southern now delivers MORE to Ring's Bethel facility and the Darien materials are TRUCKED to Darien. CSX B-750 does not go as far east as South Norwalk. District E sends them east from Stamford on track three. They depart west via track three back to STAM. At CP-235 they can get an inside track back home.

B750 has "working limits" to South Norwalk, so if they had to go that far they could without management worrying that the crew would be filing out arbitrary for exceeding their limits which amounts to extra money for the crew. Not that the train ever goes that far, but it could should the need arise.

Lastly, the B750's "working limits" technically include the New Caanan Branch in its entirety, although I think its been a good 15+ years since theres been ANY freight on that branch.
Alco FSs

Freight on the Maybrook Line in 1947

Photo by the late Austin McEntee

A diesel trio of two Alco FA-1's and an Alco FB-1 lead an eastbound freight past Hopewell Junction depot on the Maybrook line in 1947. The units in this photo were brand new. The New Haven RR purchased 30 of the FA-1 units and 15 of the FB-1 units in 1947. In 1951 five more of the FB-2 units were added to the roster. FA units had the cab and engineers controls. FB units had no control cab and were sometimes called boosters. The -1's were 1500 horsepower each and the -2 units were 1600 horsepower. They were used in groups of three or four so a typical freight train would have 4500 to 6200 horsepower on the front end. Thirty of these locomotives were used as trade ins for twenty newer GE and Alco road switcher locomotives in 1964. The last five in NHRR service lasted into the Penn Central era and were retired in 1971. One of these units is now being preserved at the Connecticut Valley RR Museum in Essex CT.

By 1950 these locomotives has replaced the steam engines on the Maybrook Line. Even diesels occasionally needed pusher help to get over the mountain east of Hopewell Junction particularly if the rails were wet or icy. Helper service at Hopewell became diesel also. With no more need for steam engine servicing, the water tanks and coal bridge were torn down. The roundhouse was rented out to a plastics company but burned in 1955.

Click here to find out more about the Central New England Railway in Hopewell Junction.
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