A Summer SUNDAY on the New Haven Railroad in 1955

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A Summer SUNDAY on the New Haven Railroad in 1955

Postby Noel Weaver » Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:16 pm

SUMMER SUNDAY ON THE NEW HAVEN RAILROAD

It is Sunday, July 7, 2013 and as I type this Amtrak has been sold out on every train leaving Boston after 12:00 NOON today. This is not something new, the New Haven carried a huge number of passengers to both Boston and New York on summer Sundays too. Lets have a look at their summer timetable for 1955, 58 short years ago.

Boston to New York had less service in this timetable than Amtrak has today but the big difference was that the New Haven had a huge pool of commuter and secondary equipment to draw from to provide seats for those who wanted to travel. Service was hourly from NOON to 9:00 PM with more after 9:00 PM as well plus an evening departure from Providence and many more trains out of Springfield and New Haven too. It was common to use MU equipment on some of the trains from New Haven and they had a good pool of cars here, even some of the old green MUTS would make a trip to New Haven quite often on Friday evening out of New York or Sunday evening out of New Haven and the clause in the timetable “Air-conditioned equipment is assigned as far as possible, but the right is reserved to employ non-air-conditioned equipment in emergencies or when the volume of traffic makes it necessary”. Between noon and midnight there were also 8 trains out of Springfield for New York several of which came through from the Boston and Maine. Out of New Haven in addition to all of the above there were 3 more trains which were usually MU equipment. This is not as much service as is available today at least out of Boston and New Haven. The big point was the trains from other points that carried a lot of passengers to Boston and even more so New York. Out of Hyannis and Woods Hole there were 3 Sunday trains to New York, one in the morning, one in the evening and one overnight sleeping car train and all carried a lot of cars. Out of Pittsfield you had a choice of three afternoon trains at 2:15 PM, 5:25 PM and 7:25 PM and the 5:25 PM train had a parlor car as well as a diner lounge while the 7:25 PM train had a parlor with broiler buffet available. I think this was the last train on the New Haven to have a parlor car with a broiler buffet too. Even more interesting was the day train from Portland, Maine, the East Wind for New York with both a diner and a parlor car plus necessary coaches and the North Wind from Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to New York which also carried coaches and a parlor car through plus a diner from White River Junction. The most unusual train of all was probably the Bar Harbor which ran from Ellsworth, Maine (bus from Bar Harbor) through to New York, Philadelphia and Washington with sleeping cars only. Yes back in 1955 the New Haven was more than just the mainline between New York and Boston plus the commuter route into New York and Boston. It was truly the Main Street of Southern New England.
What happened to this in the meantime? A number of factors come in to play which cause these trains to come out of the timetables over a period of time. The Connecticut Turnpike help reduce ridership between New York and Boston, McGinnis and Alpert added to the misery by reducing trains and being responsible for the ones that remained to decline in quality, comfort and dependability, dis-interested local governments did not help the situation either.
Finally is there any chance that much if any of it will ever come back? Cape Cod might make a partial return but Massachusetts in a show of wisdom caused the track to be pulled out to Falmouth and Woods Hole so the chance of that coming back is probably none. Hyannis might will come back and it would be a welcomed addition too. Portland, Maine – New York could be a good daylight trip by a through train and could make a valuable addition to the existing routes, the tracks that the East Wind used in 1955 are no longer available but there are other routes that would be equally as good and still in service. Pittsfield – New York this one is difficult to predict, the Housatonic Railroad thinks it will but I have serious doubts here, the Housatonic railroad is running on more or less a “shoestring” and has somewhat shady management and management practices, the area does not have enough population to warrant and support a year round regular passenger operation so I have serious doubts here. Bar Harbor and other overnight trains, forget about them, they will not be back.
Bretton Woods will not be back either, the line is partially abandoned and torn up in New Hampshire and would be strictly seasonal anyway. Probably the best chance of revival would be a day train between New York and Hyannis and/or a day train between New York and Portland, Maine via Worcester.
In closing a few years later but still in the New Haven period maybe in the mid 60’s I remember the officials in New Haven showing a couple of folks around New Haven on a Sunday evening both of whom were from the Southern Pacific and the Southern Pacific folks marveled at the numbers of people using the trains out of New Haven.
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Re: A Summer SUNDAY on the New Haven Railroad in 1955

Postby Engineer Spike » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:13 pm

You said the East Wind's route is gone. Which way did it go, Groton-Worcester, or Providence-Worcester? I think P&W keeps these routes in fairly good shape. The problem would be Guilford. The Stony Brook, WN&P, and Lowell Branch are in poor shape. The rest is OK.
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Re: A Summer SUNDAY on the New Haven Railroad in 1955

Postby edbear » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:27 pm

The original (1940-41) East Wind went via Groton and Norwich. After World War II it ran for a time via Providence to Worcester and in its last few years ran NY-New Haven-Hartford-Willimantic-Putnam-Worcester.
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Re: A Summer SUNDAY on the New Haven Railroad in 1955

Postby charlie6017 » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:48 am

Oh, I wish time machines could be invented.....would LOVE to see how things were in those days!

I can't help but think some of that longer distance service could be revived, especially if gasoline
prices trend upward again. It could make more economic sense for some families taking trips.

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Re: A Summer SUNDAY on the New Haven Railroad in 1955

Postby chnhrr » Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:11 am

The ‘East Wind’ in the Harold Interlocking area.

On a separate note, I have always wondered what those large transmission towers in the background were for. Did they transmit power for the Long Island Railroad?
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Re: A Summer SUNDAY on the New Haven Railroad in 1955

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:00 pm

Back when the Pennsylvania owned and operated the Long Island Rail Road I seem to believe that they had a power plant in Queens close to Sunnyside and that plant produced AC power for transmission to various DC substations both in New York and on Long Island. That might have been the purpose of the power line in the photo.
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Re: A Summer SUNDAY on the New Haven Railroad in 1955

Postby keyboardkat » Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:55 pm

That was the coal-fired PRR power plant in Long Island City near the waterfront that provided third-rail DC power for the PRR from Manhattan Transfer in Harrison, NJ, through Penn Station and up to Sunnyside, as well as the LIRR third rail electrification. The building could be seen across the river from the FDR, recognizable by its four tall smokestacks.
The building later housed the Stauffer Chemical Company. It now houses condominiums. The four stacks were amputated when it became a residential building.
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Re: A Summer SUNDAY on the New Haven Railroad in 1955

Postby Statkowski » Fri Jun 30, 2017 12:14 pm

It is Sunday, July 7, 2013 and as I type this Amtrak has been sold out on every train leaving Boston after 12:00 NOON today. This is not something new, the New Haven carried a huge number of passengers to both Boston and New York on summer Sundays too.


And when the New Haven was operating the service there was no such thing as being sold out. If they had more cars available (which Amtrak doesn't), they added more cars. If demand required it, they ran a second section. If it was standing room only on the train, then it was standing room only on the train. I once stood all the way from Washington, D.C. to New York, N.Y. on a pre-Amtrak Penn Central train. We all survived.
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Re: A Summer SUNDAY on the New Haven Railroad in 1955

Postby oamundsen » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:42 am

I cannot count the number of times I stood (sat on my suitcase at times) on the trains from Boston to Stamford, all without ill effect! This was also true when commuting Old Greenwich/125th St., wherein I loved to fold down the seat in the vestibule or simply stand, leaning against the bulkhead, just to enjoy the relatively short ride home in the afternoon/evening. I think the only time there were standees on Amtrak was when I traveled on September 13, 2001 from Boston to Portland, OR and they seemed to let anyone needing a ride aboard. That was one memorable trip. Aside from being overly risk averse, I don't know why standees are not allowed on commuter or short runs by Amtrak.
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