Providence and Worcester Railroad
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|Reporting mark||PW, PWRZ|
|Locale||Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island; New York City and Long Island via trackage rights|
|Dates of operation||1847 – 1892|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Providence and Worcester Railroad (reporting mark PW) is a Class II railroad owned by Genesee & Wyoming. The railroad connects from Gardner in central Massachusetts, south through its namesake cities of Worcester and Providence, Rhode Island, and west from Rhode Island through Connecticut and into New York City. The railroad's connection between New Haven, Connecticut through New York City to Long Island is via trackage rights over the Hell Gate Bridge.
In addition to the original main line between Providence and Worcester, and the East Providence Branch, the P&W owns or provides freight service on the following lines, identified by their original companies:
- Boston, Barre and Gardner Railroad, Worcester to Gardner
- Woonsocket and Pascoag Railroad, Woonsocket to Slatersville (North Smithfield)
- Old Colony Railroad Newport line, Massachusetts/Rhode Island state line to Newport (bridge out at the Sakonnet River)
- trackage rights over Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, Central Falls to New Haven
- East Junction Branch - branch of Boston and Providence Railroad, East Providence to Rhode Island/Massachusetts state line
- Norwich and Worcester Railroad, Worcester to Groton
- Southbridge Running Track - Southbridge and Blackstone Railroad, Webster to Southbridge
- Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Railroad, Plainfield to Willimantic
- New York and Boston Air Line Railroad, Middletown to New Haven
- Connecticut Valley Railroad, Hartford to Middletown
- Naugatuck Railroad, Devon to Derby (trackage rights over Metro-North Railroad)
- Danbury and Norwalk Railroad, Norwalk to Danbury
P&W operates over the following lines with overhead trackage rights, meaning it cannot serve on-line customers:
- Metro-North's New Haven Line, New Haven (CT) to New Rochelle (NY), Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, New Rochelle (NY) to Pelham Bay (NY), and CSX running tracks, Pelham Bay to Fresh Pond Jct., NY (CSX has trackage rights to serve customers on Metro-North and Amtrak, if any)
- Housatonic Railroad and branches, Danbury to Derby
- MBTA and CSX - Boston and Providence Railroad (East Providence Branch and main line), Boston, Clinton, Fitchburg and New Bedford Railroad and Old Colony Railroad Newport line, Rhode Island/Massachusetts state line to Massachusetts/Rhode Island state line
The P&W operates occasional passenger excursions on its own lines and sometimes over the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. It owns several ex-Amtrak passenger cars for that purpose.
The P&W was incorporated in Massachusetts as the Providence and Worcester Railway on March 12, 1844, and as the Providence and Worcester Railroad in Rhode Island in May 1844. The two companies were merged November 25, 1845 as the Providence and Worcester Railroad. The company bought the Blackstone Canal, also running between Providence and Worcester, and began construction, partly on its banks, in 1845.
The line opened in two sections, the part south of Millville on September 27, 1847, and the rest on October 20. The line from Providence to Central Falls was shared with the Boston and Providence Railroad, which at the same time built a connection from its old line (ending in East Providence) over to the P&W. On July 1, 1892, the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (NH) leased the P&W for 99 years.
Long distance passenger trains, pooled by the NH and the Boston and Maine Railroad, the Bar Harbor Express and the State of Maine Express, bound for Maine on Boston-bypassing routes, traveled on the line until 1960.
The New Haven merged into Penn Central on January 1, 1969. On April 6, 1970, the P&W announced its intention to separate from the merger. After a legal battle, the Interstate Commerce Commission approved the request on August 25, 1972, and, on November 2, Penn Central signed the agreement, effective December 30. The P&W cancelled the lease on February 3, 1973. Since then, the P&W has taken over many other lines from the former Penn Central in addition to several from the Boston and Maine Railroad.
On August 15, 2016, Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W) announced that it will buy Providence and Worcester Railroad Company for $25.00 per share, or approximately $126 Million. The acquisition was completed on November 1, 2016, and the Surface Transportation Board approved the acquisition on December 16, 2016.
The East Providence Branch Railroad was the only branch built by the P&W. Chartered in 1874 and opened in 1875, it split from the main line at Valley Falls and ran southeast and south, clipping the corner of Attleboro, Massachusetts and running through Pawtucket, and East Providence crossing both the Boston and Providence Railroad and the Providence, Warren and Bristol Railroad, and ending at the Wilkes-Barre Pier.
The East Providence Branch was also the P&W's only branch when it was leased to the NYNH&H, but previously it had leased several other railroads.
The Milford and Woonsocket Railroad was incorporated in 1855 and opened in 1868 from Milford to Bellingham. Soon after, the P&W leased it, despite it not being connected directly to the P&W. The Hopkinton Railway was leased in 1870 and opened in 1872, continuing the M&W north from Milford to Ashland. It too was leased to the P&W, on completion. Both leases expired in 1883 and were not renewed. The M&W bought the Hopkinton in 1884, and in 1897 the New England Railroad leased them, with a direct connection at Milford.
- 45555 - Decision
- PW history
- Ronald Dale Karr, 'The Rail Lines of Southern New England,' Pepperell Massachusetts, 2005, pp. 140-41
- Calabro, Joe. "GoLocalWorcester | Business | Providence-Worcester Railroad is Sold". Retrieved 2016-08-15.
- STB approves G&W's acquisition of Providence & Worcester
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Providence and Worcester Railroad.|
- Official website
- Providence & Worcester Railroad Repair Shop Account Book, 1851-54; 1880-1899 Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
- Railroad History Database
- PRR Chronology
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. RI-3, "Providence & Worcester Railroad, Freight House, Canal Street, Providence, Providence County, RI", 22 photos, 5 measured drawings, 3 data pages, 1 photo caption page
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