Ridgefielder wrote: ↑Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:17 pmI may be the only living user of this forum who actually remembers riding the Danbury branch when it was electrified (How's that for a bizarre distinction?). I rode it before and after the electrics gave way to FL9s and can tell you categorically there was no difference in performance.
Going to reinforce what was said here, as someone who grew up along the Danbury Branch and knows the area well.
The only reason the Danbury Branch was electrified back in 1923 was to eliminate an engine change for the Danbury through trains, and move the changeover for Pittsfield service. After the wire went up on the Danbury they were able to consolidate steam locomotive servicing and shut down facilities in Stamford. Unlike on the rest of the West End of the New Haven, the yards and sidings on the Danbury were never wired, nor was the short branch up the hill from Branchville to Ridgefield Center. Freight remained under steam. It was an economy move for passenger service, pure and simple.
If it had never been electrified, nobody would be talking about electrifying it today. Instead half the locals who know zero about railroad operations see the old Cat poles, see the old pictures, hear stories about how the Berkshire carried a diner and parlor cars "back in grandpa's day" and think stringing up 20 miles of 12.5kV wire will magically give us the Danbury Acela. [end of rant]
Two major service problems occurred over my memory:
1. Deterioration of track. There were two major wrecks: in February 1967 and May 1973. The 1973 wreck resulted in a fatality (ironically of a RR employee who lived in Danbury and commuted to his office in NYC. I knew him slightly). BY mid 1975 the track had been upgraded by CDOT funding. This was the first huge improvement.
2. Closing of the block stations in Branchville (completely) and Wilton (afternoons and nights). This made it inconvenient and caused some delays in evening commute hours because crews were required to either radio or phone to the operator at "Berk" in Norwalk for clearance. That of course remained until the TCS went into effect just a few years ago.
That TCS was the second greatest service improvement.
I have written on this forum on at least three previous occasions that re-electrification will not do a thing to result in further improvement in running times. I say this after many years of riding and closely observing the operation of the line.I can tell you this and tell you this and tell you this until I'm blue in the face and the talk still goes on.
BTW, three historical items:
- first electric operation was June 29 1925. This was long before I was around.
- Last electric operation was January 28 1961. The power was turned off effective Feb. 1. I rode the line once in January 1961 not realizing it would by my last ride under wire.
- I laughed at the comment about "Back in grandpa's day." Well, I am a grandpa and I did ride a parlor car on the line while the New Haven was still running it on weekends. Never rode a diner, though, unless you count the diner and later grill car that were converted to bar cars on one of the commute runs.