New Canaan Branch

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New Canaan Branch
Metro-North logo.svg
Type Regional rail
System Metro-North
Locale Stamford, CT to New Canaan, CT
Termini Grand Central Terminal Stamford
New Canaan
Stations 5 (+1 proposed)
Owner Connecticut DOT
Operator(s) New Canaan RR (1868–1879)
Stamford & New Canaan RR (1883–1884)
NY,NH&H (1884–1969)
Penn Central (1969–1971)
ConnDOT (lessor 1971–1976, owner 1976–present)
Metro-North (operator 1983–present)
Character Commuter rail
Rolling stock


Track length 8.2 miles (13.2 km)
Number of tracks 1
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification 12,500 V AC catenary
Operating speed 40 mph (64 km/h)
Route map
41.2 mi
66.3 km
New Canaan
Merritt Parkway
39.2 mi
63.1 km
Talmadge Hill
Woodway closed
Springdale Cemetery closed
36.9 mi
59.4 km
35.2 mi
56.6 km
New Haven Line
to New Haven
East Stamford proposed
33.0 mi
53.1 km
StamfordAmtrakShore Line EastGreyhound Lines
New Haven Line
to Grand Central Terminal

Metro North Railroad's New Canaan Branch is an 8.2 miles (13.2 km) branch of their New Haven Line from a junction east of downtown Stamford, Connecticut north to New Canaan. It opened in 1868 as the New Canaan Railroad.


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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] On April 10, 1972, Penn Central briefly suspended off-peak service on the branch to install high-level platforms at stations.[4] In 1983, the Metro-North Commuter Railroad took over the operation of trains on the branch.[5]

Like the New Haven mainline, the entire branch is electrified, although it is currently the only electrified branch. Beginning in 2011, all service is provided by the new Kawasaki M8. Except for the storage tracks at New Canaan, this branch is single-tracked. Most trains operate as a shuttle between Stamford and New Canaan; a few peak trains run through to Grand Central Terminal on weekday mornings and return in the evening.

The film The Ice Storm features the New Canaan branch extensively, with M2 cars (although dressed in Penn Central markings for the 1973 setting).


As of July 2007, a Stamford East Side station under consideration for this line or just past it on the New Haven line.[6]

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.[7]


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.[8]

On July 13, 1976, two trains collided, killing two and injuring 29.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] The railroad announced that regular service resumed on November 13.[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.[14]


Zone Station Miles (km)
from GCT
Connections / notes
Northeast Corridor / New Haven Line continue south
16 Stamford Handicapped/disabled access 33.0 (53.1) 1849 BSicon BAHN.svg Amtrak: Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Vermonter
BSicon BAHN.svg Metro-North: New Haven Line
BSicon BAHN.svg Shore Line East (limited service)
Bus transport 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
Bus transport Greyhound Lines
Bus transport Peter Pan Bus Lines
Bus transport UConn Stamford Shuttle
East Stamford Proposed station[6]
New Canaan Branch splits from the New Haven Line
31 Glenbrook 35.2 (56.6) 1868 Bus transport CT Transit Stamford: 42
Springdale 36.9 (59.4) 1868 Bus transport CT Transit Stamford: 34
Springdale Cemetery Closed by Penn Central
Woodway Closed by Penn Central[15]
Talmadge Hill 39.0 (62.8) 1868
New Canaan 41.2 (66.3) 1868[16]

See also[edit]

Route map: Google

KML is from Wikidata



  1. ^ "About the New Canaan Branch Line". Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  2. ^ Rosemary H. Burns. "New Canaan Railroad History". 
  3. ^ Christopher T. Baer. "PRR CHRONOLOGY 1971 (June 2005 Edition)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 29, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2008. 
  4. ^ Christopher T. Baer. "PRR CHRONOLOGY 1972 (June 2005 Edition)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 25, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2008. 
  5. ^ Peter A. Cannito. "On MTA Metro-North Railroad's 25th Anniversary". Archived from the original on April 24, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b 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. 
  7. ^ "Let's Go CT Transportation Ramp Up Dashboard". Connecticut Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ Knight, Michael (October 10, 1976). "Connecticut Transportation Unit Links Train Wreck to Speeding". New York Times. 
  12. ^ Cassidy, Martin B. (November 8, 2012). "New Canaan Line restoration work continues". Stamford Advocate. Retrieved November 11, 2012. 
  13. ^ "MTA Metro-North Railroad". Metro-North Railroad. Retrieved November 14, 2012. Regular train service resumes on the New Canaan Branch on Tuesday, November 13. 
  14. ^ Cassidy, Martin B. (November 13, 2012). "Leaves foul morning rail commute". Stamford Advocate. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Woodway Railroad Station 1868". 
  16. ^ "New Canaan Train Station". Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2008.