New England Central Railroad

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New England Central Railroad
New England Central Railroad logo.png
NECR 3850 at White River Junction.agr.jpg
A NECR GP38 at White River Junction, Vermont
HeadquartersSt. Albans, Vermont
Reporting markNECR
LocaleNew England
Dates of operation1995–
PredecessorCentral Vermont Railway
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length384 miles (618 km)
WebsiteOfficial website
Route map

E Alburgh,VT
St Albans
Essex Junction
Middlesex Junction
White River Junction
Claremont Junction
Bellows Falls
Millers Falls,MA
New London,CT

The New England Central Railroad (reporting mark NECR) is a regional railroad in the New England region of the United States. It began operations in 1995, as the successor of the Central Vermont Railway. It is a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming and runs from New London, Connecticut, to Alburgh, Vermont at the Canada–US border, a distance of 366 miles (589 km).[1] Several short branch lines bring the company's total trackage to 384 miles.[2]

The railroad interchanges with the CN, CSX, MCER, PAS, P&W, GMRC, WACR, and VTR.


Background and CN divestment[edit]

The Central Vermont Railway had long been owned and operated by Canadian railroads, first the Grand Trunk Railway, and from 1927 the Canadian National Railway (CN); CN was in turn owned by the government of Canada. The Central Vermont's owners kept it a separate company, complete with its own fleet of green and yellow painted locomotives.[2]

Operations on the line entered a general decline in the 1980s in tandem with falling freight volumes, which persisted despite the introduction of modern locomotives by CN in the early 1990s.[2] In 1992, the Canadian government began the process of privatizing CN; as part of privatization, branches and less lucrative lines were identified for divestment, including the Central Vermont. CN announced it wished to sell the Central Vermont in 1993, and in October 1994 shortline railroad holding company RailTex Corp. offered to buy the CV via a new subsidiary named the New England Central Railroad.[3][4] The transaction was completed in early 1995.[5]

Formation and early years (1995–2000)[edit]

The Central Vermont Railway transitioned to the New England Central Railroad starting on February 3, 1995, with the transition complete three days later on February 6.[2] The new railroad was marked by improved service compared to the old Central Vermont, as well as more flexible crew arrangements, both of which led to a resurgence of the line. Within a year of NECR's takeover of the line declining traffic flow was reversed, with the railroad handling more than 30,000 carloads annually within two years of commencing operations,[1] in contrast to the old CV, which had suffered through years of declining traffic and the loss of profitability.[6] The company's rapid success led to it being named 1995's Short Line Railroad of the Year by industry trade journal Railway Age.[7]

NECR's motive power initially consisted of former Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad EMD GP38s although by the late 1990s, leased locomotives, largely former Conrail EMD SD40-2s, entered service.[5]

RailAmerica ownership (2000–2012)[edit]

In 2000, RailTex was acquired by RailAmerica, which was subsequently bought in 2007 by Fortress Investments. Neither change in ownership affected the NECR to any great extent.[8]

On November 9, 2010, the railroad began construction on a project to raise speeds on trackage within Vermont to 59 miles per hour (95 km/h), with speeds on the route south of White River Junction being increased to 79 miles per hour (127 km/h) for passenger service. The upgrades were part of a project to decrease running times for Amtrak's Vermonter, which operates over the route. Construction was funded by a $70 million grant from the federal government, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.[9]

At the end of August 2011, the NECR was severely impacted by flood waters from Hurricane Irene. Though downgraded by this time to a tropical storm, Irene inflicted major damage between Montpelier and White River Junction, completely washing away about 2,000 feet (610 m) of roadbed and leaving welded rail and ties suspended in mid-air.[10] Two bridges over the White River were also heavily damaged, but the line from White River Junction to New London was not affected as severely. At first it was estimated that repairs would take 4 to 6 weeks. However, with repair crews working around the clock to replace the washed-out ballast and shore up the bridges, the railroad was reopened for traffic by mid-September.[11]

Genesee & Wyoming ownership (2012–present)[edit]

The 45 railroads formerly owned by RailAmerica, which had previously taken over RailTex lines, were transferred to Genesee & Wyoming in December 2012. This change of ownership caused a shuffle of locomotives around their rail system, and the original NECR yellow & blue paint scheme is slowly being replaced by the Genesee & Wyoming scheme.

On August 15, 2016, Genesee & Wyoming announced an agreement to purchase the Providence and Worcester Railroad, which interchanges freight with the New England Central.


The railroad's traffic consists largely of general freight, including lumber products, metals, chemicals and stone products,[12][13] although COFC (container on flat car) and TOFC (trailer on flat car) business is also operated from the Canada–US border to Boston, in partnership with the Providence and Worcester Railroad.[14] The NECR hauled around 37,000 carloads in 2008.[12]


NECR maintains significant operations at several locations along their line. Its main office is located in St. Albans, Vermont, along with the main office for the Connecticut Southern Railroad (CSOR), with which NECR shares many management functions.[13] St. Albans is also the location of the main shop and dispatch office. Vermont's largest rail yard is the St. Albans yard, which handles upwards of 40,000 cars each year. Other significant operations are at White River Junction and Brattleboro, both of which are the location of offices and smaller yards.[15] Palmer, Massachusetts serves as the main yard and office for operations south of the Vermont line.[1]


As of May 2020, the NECR fleet consisted of the following:[16]

Number Type Manufacturer Notes
417, 437, 3015, 3039, 3040
3015, 3039, and 3040 are the variant GP40-2LW (Wide cab)
721–722, 3474, 3475–3476, 3477, 3478, 3317, 3320, 3398-3399, 3405
3474, 3475–3476 and 3478 are the variant SD40M-2. 3317 is an SD40T-2. 3398 and 3399 lettered for Connecticut Southern
1750, 1901
2011, 3844–3845, 3847–3855, 3857, 3859, 3869, 9520, 9527–9531, 9533, 9537, 9539, 9543, 9549
3844 and 3845 are the variant GP38AC, with an alternator instead of a generator.
2151, 2168, 2607, 3802, 3812
3802 and 3812 are the variant GP38-3, with rebuilt cabs.
3809, 4001, 4030, 4048–4049, 6526
3809 is the variant GP40U. 4030 and 4048 are the variant GP40G.
5032–5033, 6281
9014, 9059

Passenger services[edit]

Since 1989, Amtrak has operated its daily Vermonter service between Washington, D.C. and St. Albans, Vermont, using the NECR. Until 2014, the NECR was used north of Palmer, Massachusetts, and since 2014, north of Northfield, Massachusetts.[17] The largest cause of delays on this line has been track and signal problems along the NECR. Since 2007, many mainline track and surfacing improvements brought Amtrak's on time performance to above 80% on-time levels.[18] The Central Corridor Rail Line is a proposed service that would run passenger cars from New London to Brattleboro entirely over NECR trackage.


  1. ^ a b c Solomon, Brian; Mike Confalone (2007). Rails across New England 1989–1999: Volume 2-Connecticut, Massachusetts & Rhode Island. Railroad Explorer. ISBN 0-9725320-5-6.
  2. ^ a b c d Solomon, Brian (June 2020). "A Quarter Century of New England Central". Trains. pp. 38–45.
  3. ^ "CN Plans to Sell Central Vermont RR". Toledo Blade. October 27, 1993. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  4. ^ "Central Vermont to Sell Rail". The Day. October 11, 1994. Retrieved December 28, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Confalone, Mike; Joe Posik (2005). Rails across New England 1989–1999: Volume 1-Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont. Railroad Explorer. ISBN 0-9725320-1-3.
  6. ^ "The Central Vermont Railway". Picturing the Past. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  7. ^ "Awards". RailAmerica. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  8. ^ Fred Frailey (June 2010). "RailAmerica restarts its engines". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing.
  9. ^ "Vermont, Amtrak formally kick off high speed work". Trains Magazine. November 9, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
  10. ^ "Hurricane/TS Irene Railroad Aftermath". Steel Wheels Photography. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  11. ^ "New England Central returns to normal after Hurricane Irene". RailAmerica News. September 30, 2011. Retrieved November 10, 2011.
  12. ^ a b "RailAmerica's Empire". Trains Magazine. Kalmbach Publishing. June 2010.
  13. ^ a b "New England Central Railroad". Canadian National Railway. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  14. ^ "New England Central Railroad (NECR)". RailAmerica. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  15. ^ "New England Central Railroad". Vermont Rail Action Network. Archived from the original on January 24, 2010. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  16. ^ "New England Central". The Diesel Shop. September 22, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  17. ^ "Amtrak Vermonter makes first Knowledge Corridor run in Springfield, Northampton and Greenfield". 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  18. ^ "Route Performance: Vermonter". Amtrak. 2008. Retrieved September 16, 2008.
Preceded by Short Line Railroad of the Year
Succeeded by