New Canaan Branch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

New Canaan Branch
Metro-North logo.svg
TypeCommuter rail
SystemMetro-North Railroad
LocaleStamford, CT to New Canaan, CT
TerminiGrand Central rush hours
New Canaan
OwnerConnecticut 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)
CharacterCommuter rail
Rolling stockKawasaki M8
Line length8.2 miles (13.2 km)
Number of tracks1
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification12,500 V AC catenary
Operating speed40 mph (64 km/h)
Route map

41.2 mi
66.3 km
New Canaan
39.2 mi
63.1 km
Talmadge Hill
Springdale Cemetery
36.9 mi
59.4 km
35.2 mi
56.6 km
East Stamford
33.0 mi
53.1 km
AmtrakShore Line EastGreyhound Lines
Distances shown are from Grand Central Terminal

The New Canaan Branch is an 8.2-mile (13 km) long branch line of the Metro-North Railroad 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.


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 taken over in foreclosure in 1883 by the Stamford and New Canaan Railroad, which incorporated in 1882.[3] 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.

On November 1, 1907, the use of 500-volt DC overhead catenary was discontinued. In 1908, it was replaced 11,000 volt AC operation.[4] Costs were reduced by supplying the line from the Cos Cob station instead of by independent power.[5]

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.[6] On April 10, 1972, Penn Central briefly suspended off-peak service on the branch to install high-level platforms at stations.[7] In 1983, the Metro-North Commuter Railroad took over the operation of trains on the branch.[8]

Current Operation[edit]

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.[9]

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.[10]


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.[11]

On July 13, 1976, two trains collided, killing two and injuring 29.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] The railroad announced that regular service resumed on November 13.[16] 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.[17]

In popular culture[edit]

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


The following connecting services are available to Amtrak,[18] Metro-North Railroad,[19] Shore Line East,[20] and CT Transit.[21]

Zone Milepost (km) Station Location Date opened Date closed Connections
16 33.0 (53.1) Stamford Handicapped/disabled access Stamford 1849 Amtrak: Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Vermonter
Metro-North Railroad: New Haven Line, Waterbury Branch (limited service)
CTrail: Shore Line East (limited service)
CTtransit Stamford: 311, 312, 313, 321, 324, 327, 328, 331, 333, 334, 335, 336, 341, 342, 344, 345, 351, I-BUS Express
Greyhound Lines, Peter Pan Bus Lines
UConn Stamford Shuttle
31 35.2 (56.6) Glenbrook July 4, 1868 CTtransit Stamford: 344
36.9 (59.4) Springdale July 4, 1868 CTtransit Stamford: 344
Springdale Cemetery Darien (closed)[22]
Woodway (closed)[22]
39.0 (62.8) Talmadge Hill New Canaan July 4, 1868
41.2 (66.3) New Canaan July 4, 1868[23]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "About the New Canaan Branch Line". Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  2. ^ Rosemary H. Burns. "New Canaan Railroad History".
  3. ^ Economics, Association of American Railroads Bureau of Railway (1915). Trial Bibliography on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.
  4. ^ Thirty-Eighth Year General Statement On The Affairs Of The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company For The Year Ending June 30, 1909. New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company. 1909. p. 7.
  5. ^ "Conversion of New Canaan Branch From 500-Volt D.C. To 11,000-Volt A.C. Operation". Electric Railway Journal. McGraw Hill Publishing Company. 33 (20): 900–903. May 15, 1909.
  6. ^ Christopher T. Baer. "PRR CHRONOLOGY 1971 (June 2005 Edition)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 29, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
  7. ^ Christopher T. Baer. "PRR CHRONOLOGY 1972 (June 2005 Edition)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 25, 2012. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
  8. ^ Peter A. Cannito. "On MTA Metro-North Railroad's 25th Anniversary". Archived from the original on April 24, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Let's Go CT Transportation Ramp Up Dashboard". Connecticut Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  11. ^ "RAILROAD ACCIDENT REPORT: PENN CENTRAL COMPANY COLLISION OF TRAINS N-48 AND N-49 AT DARIEN, CONNECTICUT, AUGUST 20, 1969". October 14, 1970. Retrieved June 28, 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ Knight, Michael (October 10, 1976). "Connecticut Transportation Unit Links Train Wreck to Speeding". New York Times.
  14. ^ "RAILROAD ACCIDENT REPORT: COLLISION OF TWO CONSOLIDATED RAILROAD CORPORATION COMMUTER TRAINS, NEW CANAAN, CONNECTICUT, JULY 13, 1976". May 19, 1977. Retrieved June 26, 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Cassidy, Martin B. (November 8, 2012). "New Canaan Line restoration work continues". Stamford Advocate. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  16. ^ "MTA Metro-North Railroad". Metro-North Railroad. Retrieved November 14, 2012. Regular train service resumes on the New Canaan Branch on Tuesday, November 13.
  17. ^ Cassidy, Martin B. (November 13, 2012). "Leaves foul morning rail commute". Stamford Advocate. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  18. ^ "Amtrak" (PDF).
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "CT Transit Stamford System Map" (PDF). CT transit. Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Woodway Railroad Station 1868".
  23. ^ "New Canaan Train Station". Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved May 13, 2008.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata