New Canaan Branch
Metro North Railroad's New Canaan Branch is an 8.2-mile (13 km) long branch line of the New Haven Line, that begins from a junction east of downtown Stamford, Connecticut north to New Canaan. It opened in 1868 as the New Canaan Railroad. While most trains operate as local shuttles between Stamford and New Canaan, several weekday trains operate between New Canaan and Grand Central Terminal running along the New Haven main line.
|New Canaan Branch|
|Locale||Stamford, CT to New Canaan, CT|
Grand Central rush hours|
New Canaan RR (1868–1879)|
Stamford & New Canaan RR (1883–1884)
Penn Central (1969–1971)
ConnDOT (lessor 1971–1976, owner 1976–present)
Metro-North (operator 1983–present)
|Rolling stock||Kawasaki M8|
|Line length||8.2 miles (13.2 km)|
|Number of tracks||1|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||12,500 V AC catenary|
|Operating speed||40 mph (64 km/h)|
The New Canaan Railroad was chartered in May 1866 as a short branch of the New York and New Haven Railroad. It opened July 4, 1868 when a train ran from Stamford to New Canaan. Within a year of the opening of operations a branch from the NY&NH main line south in Stamford to the pier at the Pine Island Steamboat Landing was opened to allow passengers and freight to switch to steamboats running on Long Island Sound. Despite such attempts to increase revenue on January 1, 1879, the company went bankrupt, and it was reorganized in 1883 as the Stamford and New Canaan Railroad. The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad leased the line on October 1, 1884, and on October 1, 1890, it was merged into the NYNH&H.
The NYNH&H was merged into Penn Central in 1969. On January 1, 1971, the State of Connecticut leased operation of passenger service along the New Canaan Branch to Penn Central for $100,000 per year. On April 10, 1972, Penn Central briefly suspended off-peak service on the branch to install high-level platforms at stations. In 1983, the Metro-North Commuter Railroad took over the operation of trains on the branch.
Like the New Haven mainline from Mt. Vernon, New York to New Haven, Connecticut, the entire branch is electrified with overhead catenary, although it is currently the only electrified branch. Between Mt. Vernon and Grand Central, DC third rail is used, due to the lack of catenary between the two points. Beginning in March 2011, the newly delivered Kawasaki M8 railcars started running in revenue service along the branch, and eventually took over operation from the older Budd M2 railcars. Except for the main-line portion of the route from Grand Central to Stamford and the storage tracks at New Canaan, the branch is entirely single-tracked. In contrast with the main New Haven line, there are frequent grade crossings along the branch.
Shuttle trains that operate between Stamford and New Canaan make all local stops in between, before turning around and returning to Stamford. On the weekday trains to New Canaan from Grand Central, all stops between Stamford and New Canaan are made, and either all, most, or no stops are made between Grand Central and Stamford along the main line depending on the train.
As of July 2007, a Stamford East Side station under consideration for this line or just past it on the New Haven line.
Improvements are planned on the line to make service more frequent. A siding will be built at Springdale, and there will be station and platform improvements. Construction is expected to cost $15 million with construction starting in 2020.
On August 20, 1969 at about 8:20 p.m., a northbound commuter train with a three-man crew and about 60 to 80 passengers hit an empty southbound train carrying only five employees, killing four and injuring 40 just north of the Hoyt Street crossing in Darien. The lead cars of each train were almost completely destroyed. The National Transportation Safety Board report concluded that the cause was the northbound train's failure to stop at a meeting point as stated on train orders.
On July 13, 1976, two trains collided, killing two and injuring 29. In October 1976, the CDOT released their report which only blamed the engineer of the northbound train (Number 1994) for excessive speed. The engineer's union contended that there was a problem with the train brakes, that there was an automatic track lubricator which had been putting down excessive oil for two weeks before the incident and an insufficient signal system. The National Transportation Safety Board released their final report on the incident on May 19, 1977 as Report Number RAR-77-04. That report concluded that the cause was "the failure of the engineer of train No. 1994 to perceive the train ahead and to apply the brakes at the earliest possible time". It also cited problems with the design of the signal system, design of the M2's exit doors and interior design of the trains.
The New Canaan Branch was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy on October 29–30, 2012. The line was blocked by fallen trees in 37 different locations; many of these trees also brought down the overhead catenary wires. Shuttle buses replaced all trains. The railroad announced that regular service resumed on November 13. This resumption was marred by slippery rails caused by rain and fallen leaves, to the extent that service had to be shut down again that afternoon to deploy Metro-North's rail-washing train. Train service resumed in time for the evening commute.
|Connections / notes|
|Northeast Corridor / New Haven Line continue south|
|16||Stamford||33.0 (53.1)||1849|| Amtrak: Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Vermonter|
Metro-North: New Haven Line
Shore Line East (limited service)
CT Transit Stamford: 11, 12, 13, 21, 22, 23, 31, 32, 33, 34, 41, 42, 43, 44, I-BUS Express, Stamford Commuter Shuttle, Bulls Head, North, Route 1 East
Peter Pan Bus Lines
UConn Stamford Shuttle
|East Stamford||Proposed station|
|New Canaan Branch splits from the New Haven Line|
|31||Glenbrook||35.2 (56.6)||1868||CT Transit Stamford: 42|
|Springdale||36.9 (59.4)||1868||CT Transit Stamford: 34|
|Springdale Cemetery||Closed by Penn Central|
|Woodway||Closed by Penn Central|
|Talmadge Hill||39.0 (62.8)||1868|
|New Canaan||41.2 (66.3)||1868|
Route map: Google
- Connecticut Rail Commuter Council is the official state advocate for train commuters and brings station problems to the attention of officials.
- The New Canaan Branch Line Details of the railroad that has been integral to the development of Fairfield County, Connecticut, with interactive maps, photographs, and information about the rail line's history.
- List of New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad precursors
- Railroad History Database
- Philip C. Blakeslee, A Brief History Lines West Of The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Co. (1953)
- "About the New Canaan Branch Line". Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Rosemary H. Burns. "New Canaan Railroad History".
- Christopher T. Baer. "PRR CHRONOLOGY 1971 (June 2005 Edition)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 29, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
- Christopher T. Baer. "PRR CHRONOLOGY 1972 (June 2005 Edition)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 25, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
- Peter A. Cannito. "On MTA Metro-North Railroad's 25th Anniversary". Archived from the original on April 24, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
- Hughes, C.J. (July 8, 2007). "Living in Glenbrook, Conn.; The Little Town in the City". New York Times. p. RE9. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
Anticipating growth, and aiming to alleviate crowding in Stamford’s main station, the city may add a second stop in Glenbrook, either on the New Haven line or the New Canaan spur, possibly near the Courtland Avenue overpass, where one existed until the 1950s, Mr. Lecar said.
- "Let's Go CT Transportation Ramp Up Dashboard". www.letsgoct.com. Connecticut Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
- "RAILROAD ACCIDENT REPORT: PENN CENTRAL COMPANY COLLISION OF TRAINS N-48 AND N-49 AT DARIEN, CONNECTICUT, AUGUST 20, 1969". Retrieved June 28, 2012.
- "Two killed, 29 are hurt in New Canaan rail crash". The Day, New London, CT. Front. AP. July 14, 1976. pp. 1, 5. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- Knight, Michael (October 10, 1976). "Connecticut Transportation Unit Links Train Wreck to Speeding". New York Times.
- "RAILROAD ACCIDENT REPORT: COLLISION OF TWO CONSOLIDATED RAILROAD CORPORATION COMMUTER TRAINS, NEW CANAAN, CONNECTICUT, JULY 13, 1976". Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- Cassidy, Martin B. (November 8, 2012). "New Canaan Line restoration work continues". Stamford Advocate. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
- "MTA Metro-North Railroad". Metro-North Railroad. Retrieved November 14, 2012.
Regular train service resumes on the New Canaan Branch on Tuesday, November 13.
- Cassidy, Martin B. (November 13, 2012). "Leaves foul morning rail commute". Stamford Advocate. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
- "Woodway Railroad Station 1868". vizettes.com.
- "New Canaan Train Station". Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2008.