Mile 95: Newington, Connecticut
A piece of four 1890s USGS quadrangles showing the HP&F line bewtween Burnside and New Britain
The section of the Hartford, Providence, & Fishkill/ New York & New England right of way between Hartford and New Britain was pressed into service as the CTfastrak Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line in 2015. At present, this is one of only two places on the entire line (the other being a small portion of the Northeast Corridor) where one can actually ride mass transit on the line, albeit on a bus.

The busway has been controversial among railfans for the loss of railroad miles and among taxpayers for its cost. Personally, I think this op-ed by a UCONN student, Thess Johnson, gets it right. The busway exists, and for whatever trouble went on in building it, it works pretty well. My wife and I recently decided it would be fun to eat at a number of places in Downtown Hartford on a weekend afternoon, and parking in the suburbs and taking the bus in made it very hassle free. I'd rather have a train, but I like having good public transit.

All of the station sites listed on the map above were sited with information from the Tyler City Station site. Newington Junction's Wikipedia page is also worth a read to discvover it's history. I think this is one of the most special places on the HP&F in Connecticut. The New York & New England station from 1891 has been integrated into the CT Fastrak Newington Junction stop. The former NYNH&H freight building, across the 4 trackways, is in good shape and painted similarly. Together these buildings have the site on the National Register of Historic Places. It's also free parking, so a great place to ride the bus into Hartford. In general I find the place neat: I have a soft spot for architectural dissonace and I love seeing this historic building with the hyper-modern platforms. In addition, my father, Bernard Dowd, took some photos of Penn Central trains here in the 1970s and I really enjoy them.

Like all of the dedicated busway between Parkville and Newington Junction, the HP&F formerly ran next to the New Haven Line (today's Amtrak Hartford Line.) This resulted in a 4 track main. The divergence point is south of this station, so this is the last one on this site where the two are running parallel. The HP&F were the north/western tracks and the Hartford Line the south/eastern tracks. Today this means the busway is parallel to the Amtrak line, always to the north and west of it.

Click on the thumbnail for the full resolution image
A mid 20th century Conductor's Cash ticket, showing Newington as a stop
A mid-20th century conductor's cash form 3 ticket, sold between New Britain and Hartford and thus an artifact linked to this branch. It is undated, but does not list Crescent Beach, Sound View, or South Lyme as local stops along the Shore Line, so based on their dates of abandonment on the Tyler City Station site, this suggests this ticket is from the 1930s or later.
A paper Connecticut Transit all day bus fare as it appeared in 2023. The QR code has been removed.
A paper Connecticut Transit all day bus fare as it appeared in 2023. The QR code has been removed. I bought this for service between Newington Junction and Hartford (and ultimately used it at Flatbush Ave and Kane St, too.)
Looking North towards Elmwood
Looking North towards Elmwood (12/2023.)
The 1891 NY&NE station at the CT Fastrak Newington Junction Station
The 1891 NY&NE station at the CT Fastrak Newington Station in early October, 2023.
The side of the 1891 NY&NE depot at Newington Junction
The side of the 1891 NY&NE depot at Newington Junction (12/2023.)
Newington Junction shot from the bus on a rainy day
Newington Junction shot from the bus on a rainy day in late October, 2023.
The platforms at Newington Junction Station
The platforms at Newington Junction Station (12/2023.)
A view across the 4 trackways at Newington. The 1891 NY&NE depot is on the busway side, which is the HP&F right of way. The extant Amtrak (New Haven) tracks are visible too, and the freight station can be seen
A view across the 4 trackways at Newington. The 1891 NY&NE depot is on the busway side, which is the HP&F right of way. The extant Amtrak (New Haven) tracks are visible too, and the freight station can be seen. Today it is a garden center. This is looking to the east, the Willard Ave overpass can be seen down the right of way to the south (12/2023.)
A view of the extant Amtrak Hartford Line and New Haven Freight Stations at Newington, looking towards Willard Ave
A view of the extant Amtrak Hartford Line and New Haven Freight Stations at Newington, looking towards Willard Ave. This was shot from the northbound busway platform, and shows the separation between the two rights of way (12/2023.)
A CTFastrak Bus approaching Newington Junction
A CTFastrak Bus approaching Newington Junction (12/2023.)
A photo taken by my father, Bernard Dowd, of Penn Central trains at Newington in the 1970s.
A photo taken by my father, Bernard Dowd, of Penn Central trains at Newington in the 1970s. Here is his description of this photo: "Two ex-NH Alcos together at Newington Junction (CT), 1970's. Former NH RS3 #537 had died while working the New Britain branch local freight and former NH RS11 #1401 had come down from Hartford to rescue it. I believe the broken "Newington" sign dated back to NH days too but had been repainted by PC. The tracks in the foreground are the Springfield line and the Alcos are on the branch. The line to New Britain had been part of the old NY&NE mainline to Waterbury and Danbury. It's gone now though, paved over to become a commuter busway."
An alternate view of the train above
An alternate view of the train above. Here's the description from my father, Bernard Dowd: "Former NH RS-3 #537 (PC #5478) looks like it's hard at work here but it's actually broken down. Former NH RS-11 #1401 (PC #7661) is hauling the RS-3 and its New Britain local north, 1970's. The RS-11 had come down from Hartford for the rescue. The train is on former New York & New England trackage in Newington; the overpass just ahead is Willard Ave. The RS-3 was repaired and soon back in use."
Approaching the Newington Jct Station from New Britain
Approaching the Newington Jct Station from New Britain on a rainy late October day in 2023.
The inside of a CT Fastrak bus. The adjacent Hartford Line is visible outside the window
The inside of a CT Fastrak bus in October, 2023. The adjacent Hartford Line is visible outside the window

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(c) 2016-2024 Timothy M Dowd. Last Modified @ 19:06 EST on 2024-01-07
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