The Saddest Train

I’ve lived in Connecticut over a quarter century and no one’s ever told me they’ve ridden this train!

The Hartford Courant/FoxCT building is adjacent to a railroad track. Every day we see freight and passenger trains lumber by on their way to-and-from Hartford’s Union Station.

The saddest of the passersby is the little train that runs between New Haven and Springfield. It consists of an engine and two passenger cars. I’ve gotten to where I recognize the car and locomotive numbers. There’s probably only one of these trainsets going up-and-back every day.

It’s thinly traveled. I’ve lived in Connecticut over a quarter century and no one’s ever told me they’ve ridden this train!

Here it is going through the Flower Street crossing in Hartford. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

7 thoughts on “The Saddest Train”

  1. We can hear this train from our house in Newington when it crosses Flatbush Avenue in Hartford. Once in a great while we see it under the bridge near Newington Junction. My son loves trains and always looks for it when we cross the bridge, which we probably do about 10 times a week. I think we’ve seen it twice in the past year.

  2. I have been on the Amtrak between Springfield and New Haven several times on my way to New York. It’s not the fastest way between the two cities, I can drive it faster. But it sure is a lot more pleasant than driving, and the Amtrak train is far less crowded and more comfortable than the Metro North trains between New Haven and the city.

    The two car trains usually run during off peak hours. During the morning and evening rush there are usually five to seven passenger cars and a dining car. The morning trains usually continue into New York and pick up quite a few passengers along the way.

    Given your last experience in New York with your car, you might want to give Amtrak a try on your next visit to the city.

    1. Brian – The bigger trains are ‘through trains’ that go to St. Albans, Vermont. They are different than the New Haven/Springfield line.

  3. Hi Geoff,
    As of last year the State was planning to put lots of money into increasing the New Haven – Springfield line service by Amtrak, and some of the infrastructure, like restoring more of the original double track. I’m just not sure the ridership warrants it, for reasons that Brian points out. With interstate highways paralleling it less than a mile away, and those highways not prone to chronic lengthy jams, it will be very difficult to pull off a major change in commuter attitudes and get them out of their cars. When gas goes past $6-7, then people may seriously consider it. I’m a railfan too, bit I’m realistic about rail’s chances of successful growth in the short term.
    –Kim in Newtown

  4. Hi Geoff – this is fascinating, I never knew this train existed! I now cross these railroad tracks every day on my way to work…go by the Courant Fox building on Flower street and am working across the street on a three month contract project. Your garden must have been on the other side of the building?

  5. I used to ride the train you’re describing quite often, about 15 years ago, when I was fresh out of college and looking for jobs in Manhattan. I’d pick up the train in Windsor Locks, then we’d ride to New Haven, where the train switched from a diesel to an electric engine. We’d also pick up a few more cars, including a dining car, and from there we’d ride into Penn Station.

    On the ride back, the train divided, and we lost the cars that New Haven picked up inbound. The cars that split from the train would go on a different route, up to Boston, and the remaining cars would go north to Springfield. The Springfield-bound train had to switch engines from electric to diesel, whereas the Boston-bound train did not. That train traveled parallel to the shoreline, and had some wonderful views of the Connecticut coast.

    It just saddens me to know that, fifteen years after that time in my life, little has changed with respect to the railroad through northern CT. I was hoping that, by now, the New Haven-Springfield route would have been electrified, but alas, it hasn’t.

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