Westbrook (Shore Line East station)
New station under construction in December 2013
|Address||Norris Avenue & Essex Road
|Connections||Estuary Transit District|
|Platforms||2 side platforms|
|Rebuilt||March 25, 2014|
|Electrified||25,000V (AC) overhead catenary|
Westbrook is a passenger rail station along the Shore Line East commuter rail line, which runs on the Northeast Corridor between New Haven and New London. Westbrook station consists of a small parking lot and one side platform on the southbound side of the tracks. A new station with a larger lot and two platforms opened on March 25, 2014. The larger lot now allows the station, which is less than half a mile from I-95 and US-1, to serve as a park-and-ride station.
Westbrook is a commuter-only station; Amtrak's Acela Express and Northeast Regional services run through the station without stopping. Westbrook is served by about 7-10 midday and peak-direction rush hour Shore Line East trains in each direction on weekdays and 5 in each direction on weekends.
New Haven Railroad
The New Haven & New London Railroad was chartered in 1848, began construction in 1850, and opened for service in July 1852. A station was located on the north side of the tracks off Essex Road (the modern location) just north of downtown Westbrook. The line was owned by the New York, Providence and Boston Railroad (the "Stonington Road") from 1858 to 1862, and by the Shore Line Railway from 1864 until it was acquired by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad (the "New Haven") in 1870. The original 1852-built Westbrook combination depot still stands just north of the tracks at the original site, although it has been turned and moved slightly back from the tracks. A NYP&B emblem from the 1858-1862 ownership was formerly displayed on one end of the building.
The 1852 depot was replaced in 1905-06 by a station building similar to Mystic, no longer extant, located on the south side of the tracks. The new station was locally popular, with the Hartford Courant calling it a "beauty" versus the "barnlike" original. However, the stop at Westbrook was discontinued in April 1936. The station building was demolished several years afterwards, possibly by the 1938 New England Hurricane.
The New Haven continued local service along the route east of New Haven ceased until January 1, 1969, after the New Haven merged into Penn Central. The once-daily Clamdigger and Beacon Hill which continued to serve the route until 1981 did not stop at Westbrook due to its relatively small population and proximity to Old Saybrook. A siding north of the station buildings formerly served the gravel yard located there.
Westbrook also had a minor station stop located 2 miles west at Grove Beach next to the Grove Beach Road overpass. The stop was also variously known as Grovebeach and Lewis Grove. The stop opened around 1880 with a small building, which was replaced in 1899 by a larger station somewhat extravagant for a largely seasonal location. Grove Beach station was not used long into the 20th century, and certainly not after Westbrook closed.
Shore Line East
The modern Westbrook station opened at the beginning of Shore Line East service on May 29, 1990. A small low-level platform and parking lot were located at the modern station location on the north side of the tracks. A small crossing was constructed to allow passengers to board trains on the southern track. In 2001, when the Acela Express began service, a safety precaution went into effect that disallowed passengers from crossing the tracks. A new platform and parking lot were constructed across the tracks, allowing all Shore Line East trains to safely serve passengers on the southern track. The southside platform and lot opened on January 15, 2001.
The original 1990 Shore Line East stations were built before the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed and had low-level platforms that were not handicapped accessible. A 2003 agreement between the Connecticut Department of Transportation (which operates Shore Line East) and Amtrak (who owns the tracks) included a requirement that all Shore Line East stations have second platforms added before Shore Line East service could be increased. Having two platforms allows SLE trains to use both tracks, providing greater operational flexibility. Clinton, Madison, and Branford were rebuilt between 2005 and 2008 with a high-level platform and provisions for a second, while Old Saybrook and Guilford were rebuilt in 2001 and 2005 with two platforms each. However, Westbrook was not rebuilt due to delays with a land swap between the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the town of Westbrook, which was necessary to allow the rebuilding.
The swap, in which the state traded a parcel of land on CT-145 for the town's garage site off Norris Avenue (which became part of the expanded parking lot), was begun in 2004 and mostly agreed to in late 2005, but was not finalized until 2006 when the state agreed to pay $1.5 million for the town to built a new garage on the CT-145 site. Town highway operations were moved to the CT-145 site in September 2011, allowing site clearing to begin in November, and ground was broken for the $14.4 million station in January 2012.
After demolition work over the next several months, the new parking lot was graded in June 2012 and a temporary platform was constructed west of the old one. Construction of the 204-foot-long platforms took place in the third quarter of 2012, while the pedestrian bridge was lifted into place in March 2013. The station was delayed by the unexpected discoveries of a buried concrete mass and utilities under the new station site. The new station was formally opened on March 25, 2014. Full bidirectional service to Westbrook began with the schedule change of May 11, 2014.
- Estuary Transit District: Shoreline Shuttle
- "Ribbon Cut for Westbrook Train Station" (Press release). Connecticut Department of Transportation. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- Karr, Ronald Dale (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Branch Line Press. pp. 94–96. ISBN 0942147022.
- S.I. (1850). "Westbrook. (Petersen Collection)". UConn Libraries. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- Roy, John H. Jr. (2007). A Field Guide to Southern New England Railroad Depots and Freight Houses. Branch Line Press. p. 107. ISBN 9780942147087.
- Belletzkie, Bob. "CT Passenger Stations, W-WE". Tyler City Station. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- The station is labeled as Lewis Grove on this 1893 map and as Grovebeach on this 1900 map.
- Belletzkie, Bob. "CT Passenger Stations, G". Tyler City Station. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- "Westbrook". Shore Line East. Connecticut Department of Transportation and Rideworks. 15 January 2001. Archived from the original on 30 November 2001. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
- "Expanding Rail Service". Connecticut Department of Transportation. 1 January 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
- Coffey, Becky (25 June 2012). "New Westbrook Train Station Is Rolling Along". The New London Day. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- Sipe, Corey (26 January 2012). "Westbrook Train Station Breaks Ground After Lengthy Delays". Montville Patch. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- "Shore Line East Ped. Bridge Installation Saturday". Zip06. 28 February 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Coffey, Becky (14 January 2013). "New Train Station Opening Delayed to December". The Day. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
- "Shore Line East Train Schedules". Connecticut Department of Transportation. 11 May 2014. Archived from the original on 14 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
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