New Haven Depot Service Area
June 2010

Photos by Peter Limper

When I first came to New Haven, CT in the fall of 1957, the area to the west of the New Haven Railroad station included layover tracks and service facilities for the line’s diesel and electric passenger locomotives. At that time the railroad’s centenary ended at New Haven, and all trains coming from New York with electric locomotives changed to diesel power here. (The railroad’s FL-9 diesel-electric/electric locomotives, designed to operate on third rail power into Grand Central Station, and as straight diesels to run through New Haven to points east without change, were just being phased in. They never eliminated the need for the New York-New Haven electrification, as intended.) Today, despite the extension of centenary from New Haven east to Boston, the layover and service area remains and still hosts both electric and diesel locomotives as it did in 1957.

In 1957 a variety of New Haven electric locos, including box-cabs, EP-4 streamliners from 1938, and EP-5 rectifier “jets” (prototypes for a popular Lionel model) were still in operation. When I returned to New Haven in the early 1970’s, at the beginning of the Amtrak era, I saw GG-1’s in a variety of paint schemes. In 2010, an Amtrak AEM-7 pauses between assignments.

In 1957 many trains on the New Haven-Boston “Shore Line” were pulled by Alco PA’s. In 2010 stub-end tracks near the west side of the depot hold a variety of Amtrak diesel power. In the background are the eight station platform tracks.

An Amtrak PC42 in a small (fairly new?) service shed. The engine is still attached to a short passenger train, presumably bound for Hartford or some other destination on Amtrak’s non-electrified lines.

An Amtrak train is seen passing the service area; the depot is out of sight to the left. The Church Street bridge on the left was built in 2003 and obviously not designed by railfans; what should be excellent views of the station complex are blocked by solid fences along the pedestrian sidewalks!

An MU train is seen from roughly the same perspective as the previous picture.

A Connecticut DOT diesel in “retro” New Haven livery, glimpsed through a tangle of centenary.

An over-all view of the service area looking south and west. Out of view to the right (toward New York) is a passenger car storage yard which remains much as it was in the 1950’s.

Railfan notes: The pictures were taken from a sidewalk on Union Avenue, a few blocks west of the New Haven Amtrak depot. Parking is available on the adjoining street. The area felt “safer” to me than in past years, but train watchers should remain alert to their surroundings and night visits are not recommended. The sidewalk is raised about 20 feet above track level, which provides an excellent view of the service area. Unfortunately, a chain link fence impedes photography – I was able to aim my “point and shoot” camera between the links, but those with cameras with larger lenses may have difficulty. As noted, the new Church Street bridge seems to have solid fences which completely block the view of the tracks. The station platforms are accessible via an underpass at the east end of the depot; I don’t know whether Amtrak photo restrictions are enforced in any way, but the platforms provide a good view of the frequent Amtrak, Metro North, and Shore Line East trains.

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