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Connecting to CT shuttle

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On Monday, Oct. 8, I'm going on #170 to New Haven, then taking #470, the connecting shuttle, to Windsor, CT.

 

I got an email from Amtrak saying that the shuttle schedule has been changed slightly from Oct. 1 til early November, so I called Julie as a test yesterday, and the times sound just the same or very similar to before.

 

I'm assuming they've changed the schedule hardly at all (like by a minute or two) but feel they have to send a message like this?

 

I am not worried, just curious. I know the shuttle will wait, and if for some reason it is not there, we now have the spiffy new CTrail commuter train, so I could get that! :)

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and if for some reason it is not there, we now have the spiffy new CTrail commuter train, so I could get that! :)

I've actually heard that the Hartford Line is not a particularly nice train at all. The cars are apparently pretty loud and feel kind of old. It wouldn't be the end of the world if you ended up on one, but the Amtrak Shuttle is probably a much nicer ride. Just from what I've seen and been told.

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They are ancient cars, I believe, with consists cobbled together from wherever. :P

 

I will end up on a few of them, because part of this trip is to try them out and give all of you a report! :)

 

The Amtrak shuttle is a lovely train, quiet and friendly and comfortable like my favorite Keystone in PA. :)

 

So I will probably be on both.

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I got a couple of emails, one for each time I'm booked on a shuttle from NHV to WNL indicating a schedule change. In actuality, there was no schedule change for 412. Perhaps one of the shuttles got adjusted and they simply notified all shuttle train passengers. For what it's worth, I have no idea what would cause the schedule change Oct 1 through Nov 11. They already 'got me' a month ago when they shut the line down to cut in the 2nd track at Windsor. The bus 'surprise' that evening put me into a grumpy mood the entire way.

 

As for the condition of the cars, it's a 2 Amfleet I train, as it has been for quite some time. The good news is that when I rode #494 3 weeks ago, the car(s) had been 'refreshed' with leather seats, etc. And yes, they were getting a bit frayed looking...but not any more. Presumably, all the shuttle sets have been refreshed by now.

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As for the condition of the cars, it's a 2 Amfleet I train, as it has been for quite some time. The good news is that when I rode #494 3 weeks ago, the car(s) had been 'refreshed' with leather seats, etc. And yes, they were getting a bit frayed looking...but not any more. Presumably, all the shuttle sets have been refreshed by now.

We're saying that the CTrail Hartford Line is loud and old train. Not the Shuttles.

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There is a slight schedule change for the whole Hartford Line (both the Amtrak and ctrail operated trains) to accommodate ongoing work in the Windsor area - a new section of double track just opened and there is ongoing work near Windsor station that’s occasionally requiring single track operations some days. Some of the trains on the schedule depart 10 minutes earlier and some depart 10 minutes later than the Norma schedule and some haven’t changed. It was put in place to avoid trains passing in the area between the MA/CT line and Hartford.

 

If you aren’t familiar with the operation the new commuter rail operation it uses a dual service provider model with Amtrak’s schedule serving as the base and dedicated CTrail commuter trains (using old MBTA rolling stock) filling in the gaps in Amtrak’s schedule to maximize service. Amtrak accepts the commuter tickets on all the trains except the Vermonter. So commuters may be on either operate depending on their travel time.

Edited by lordsigma

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and if for some reason it is not there, we now have the spiffy new CTrail commuter train, so I could get that! :)

I've actually heard that the Hartford Line is not a particularly nice train at all. The cars are apparently pretty loud and feel kind of old. It wouldn't be the end of the world if you ended up on one, but the Amtrak Shuttle is probably a much nicer ride. Just from what I've seen and been told.

 

What are they, hand-me-down coaches from Metro-North?

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and if for some reason it is not there, we now have the spiffy new CTrail commuter train, so I could get that! :)

I've actually heard that the Hartford Line is not a particularly nice train at all. The cars are apparently pretty loud and feel kind of old. It wouldn't be the end of the world if you ended up on one, but the Amtrak Shuttle is probably a much nicer ride. Just from what I've seen and been told.

What are they, hand-me-down coaches from Metro-North?

Leased from the MBTA.

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and if for some reason it is not there, we now have the spiffy new CTrail commuter train, so I could get that! :)

I've actually heard that the Hartford Line is not a particularly nice train at all. The cars are apparently pretty loud and feel kind of old. It wouldn't be the end of the world if you ended up on one, but the Amtrak Shuttle is probably a much nicer ride. Just from what I've seen and been told.

 

What are they, hand-me-down coaches from Metro-North?

 

MBTA.

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bratkinson and lordsigma,

 

Thank you both for the information on the slight (even if any on my shuttle) time changes and the Windsor stop. It is good to know about Windsor, too, because that is where I will be starting or ending from on several days there. Is the work being done away from where passengers will board or detrain? If so, that should be fine; if not, I will have to watch my step getting on and off!

 

cpotisch--

 

Now that you have led my expectations to be zero or even worse, the actual trips and the trains can only be better, even if they are awful! :giggle: (Remember, though, that my regular commuter train is NJT--commuter life can only go up from that :P.)

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and if for some reason it is not there, we now have the spiffy new CTrail commuter train, so I could get that! :)

I've actually heard that the Hartford Line is not a particularly nice train at all. The cars are apparently pretty loud and feel kind of old. It wouldn't be the end of the world if you ended up on one, but the Amtrak Shuttle is probably a much nicer ride. Just from what I've seen and been told.

What are they, hand-me-down coaches from Metro-North?

Leased from the MBTA.

 

Sweet deal. For Massachusetts, that is... ;)

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bratkinson and lordsigma,

 

Thank you both for the information on the slight (even if any on my shuttle) time changes and the Windsor stop. It is good to know about Windsor, too, because that is where I will be starting or ending from on several days there. Is the work being done away from where passengers will board or detrain? If so, that should be fine; if not, I will have to watch my step getting on and off!

They are building new temporary platforms at Windsor due to the new double track thru the area. The station is open and you should be fine. During work days they might knock the Hartford-Windsor stretch down to one track from time to time but this construction schedule is designed to deal with that. It can get complicated by late northbound Amtrak trains that are caused by NEC delays but all in all I think its worked ok.

 

The new platforms are temporary as long term they are slated to build brand a brand new station similar to what they've done in Berlin, Meriden, and Wallingford. Same with Windsor Locks. At Windsor Locks the town wants it moved to a new location, not sure what the target spot is for the new station in Windsor, but nothing is funded beyond the current work that is being finished up.

Edited by lordsigma

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Great--thanks, lordsigma.

 

I will follow the conductor's instructions on the shuttle if there is a change in how to detrain, but I will of course be on my own when I try CTrail at Windsor.

 

I have not been up through central CT in a while, so I will look forward to seeing what Berlin, Meriden, and Wallingford look like (I thought Berlin was destroyed in a fire--have they already rebuilt it?)

 

I can see Windsor Locks being moved elsewhere--right now it seems to be away from everything except a major highway and is just a glorified bus shelter.

 

Windsor is in a perfect place in the town center, so I hope they don't move that.

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Great--thanks, lordsigma.

 

I will follow the conductor's instructions on the shuttle if there is a change in how to detrain, but I will of course be on my own when I try CTrail at Windsor.

 

I have not been up through central CT in a while, so I will look forward to seeing what Berlin, Meriden, and Wallingford look like (I thought Berlin was destroyed in a fire--have they already rebuilt it?)

 

I can see Windsor Locks being moved elsewhere--right now it seems to be away from everything except a major highway and is just a glorified bus shelter.

 

Windsor is in a perfect place in the town center, so I hope they don't move that.

Berlin's historic station building indeed was destroyed - it was originally supposed to be incorporated into the construction of the new CTrail/Amtrak station. Because of the fire they went back to the drawing board and essentially did the same design as Meriden and Wallingford. You will notice that Wallingford's new station is in a new location a bit to the north of the former location- if you pay attention you'll see the former station location near the historic station building as the train passes through.

 

All in all the CTrail/NHHS project redid those 3 stations as well as expanded the State Street Station in New Haven to the other side of the tracks opposite the original platform and added a high level platform at Hartford with the information displays and, as discussed, new "no frills makeshift" low level platforms at Windsor. The Hartford platform is also somewhat makeshift as a new station is likely to get built within the next decade as part of the I84 project. Still under construction is the high level platform at Springfield - that should be open sometime in late 2018/early 2019.

 

Last phase (not yet funded for construction - design phase for the double track and Windsor Locks is funded):

- Finish the double tracking from just south of Windsor Locks station to Enfield just to the south of the Connecticut/Massachusetts state line. (Funded for design not yet construction)

- CTrail Train layover facility in Springfield

- New Windsor Locks double track station with high level platforms closer to the main business district (probably similar design to the new Berlin/Meriden/Wallingford/State Street New Side) (Funded for design not yet construction)

- New Windsor station with high level platforms. (No funding yet)

- New stations in North Haven, Newington, West Hartford, and Enfield.

 

Additionally, the following was not within the scope of the CTrail project but would also need to be addressed eventually to realize the full vision of the state's plan:

- Warehouse Point/Connecticut River Bridge Rehab with reactivation with double track

- A long term final solution for Hartford station with double track.

Edited by lordsigma

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Great--thanks, lordsigma.

 

I will follow the conductor's instructions on the shuttle if there is a change in how to detrain, but I will of course be on my own when I try CTrail at Windsor.

 

I have not been up through central CT in a while, so I will look forward to seeing what Berlin, Meriden, and Wallingford look like (I thought Berlin was destroyed in a fire--have they already rebuilt it?)

 

I can see Windsor Locks being moved elsewhere--right now it seems to be away from everything except a major highway and is just a glorified bus shelter.

 

Windsor is in a perfect place in the town center, so I hope they don't move that.

Isn't Windsor Locks the closest station to Bradley Airport? I would think there would be some sort of shuttle bus to connect them and get a fair bit of traffic... :unsure:

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It is the closest station, however CTDOT decided against a shuttle from the Windsor Locks station and instead decided that shuttle service between Hartford station, the Hartford convention center, and Bradley airport was a better option - the extreme limitations of the present Windsor Locks station is one of the reasons for the decision if I recall correctly (although there are others as well - namely an additional desire was having a convention center shuttle.) This decision was criticized by many although CTDOT has defended it saying their research stated that a Hartford shuttle was the way to go. Supposedly they are going to reconsider the matter once a new Windsor Locks station is built - if they did it would be a second shuttle and not affect the current service.

Edited by lordsigma

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Oops--when I said Windsor Locks is away from everything, I was being very self-centered and just thinking it is away from where my relatives live--Windsor is much closer to them. I forgot all about the airport and Hartford. :blush:

 

One more question--and I'm sure a foolish one, but I just don't remember--you can still only board Windsor on one side, right? There is no track on the other side going north? So when I want to go north to Springfield for the RUN meeting, I should be on the same platform as when I go south?

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There is now a second track in service, so the line is effectively double tracked from New Haven to just north of the Windsor station, except for a small section around Hartford.

 

They just recently finished a second platform at Windsor, but there is still construction going on in the area.

Edited by daybeers

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It is the closest station, however CTDOT decided against a shuttle from the Windsor Locks station and instead decided that shuttle service between Hartford station, the Hartford convention center, and Bradley airport was a better option - the extreme limitations of the present Windsor Locks station is one of the reasons for the decision if I recall correctly (although there are others as well - namely an additional desire was having a convention center shuttle.) This decision was criticized by many although CTDOT has defended it saying their research stated that a Hartford shuttle was the way to go. Supposedly they are going to reconsider the matter once a new Windsor Locks station is built - if they did it would be a second shuttle and not affect the current service.

I imagine they charge for that shuttle to Hartford. If they ran one to Windsor Locks, it is short enough to be a complimentary ride. Maybe.

Do they also run a shuttle to Springfield from Bradley? I haven't been to Bradley in about 20 years...and that was on a diverted flight, that remained on the ramp, until it was cleared to JFK...

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It is the closest station, however CTDOT decided against a shuttle from the Windsor Locks station and instead decided that shuttle service between Hartford station, the Hartford convention center, and Bradley airport was a better option - the extreme limitations of the present Windsor Locks station is one of the reasons for the decision if I recall correctly (although there are others as well - namely an additional desire was having a convention center shuttle.) This decision was criticized by many although CTDOT has defended it saying their research stated that a Hartford shuttle was the way to go. Supposedly they are going to reconsider the matter once a new Windsor Locks station is built - if they did it would be a second shuttle and not affect the current service.

I imagine they charge for that shuttle to Hartford. If they ran one to Windsor Locks, it is short enough to be a complimentary ride. Maybe.

Do they also run a shuttle to Springfield from Bradley? I haven't been to Bradley in about 20 years...and that was on a diverted flight, that remained on the ramp, until it was cleared to JFK...

 

I do not know of a Shuttle from Springfield to Bradley unless the local Springfield bus authority, PVTA, operates one. It's also possible Peter Pan Bus Lines might run something but I do not know of anything. The Hartford Shuttle which I think they call the Bradley Flyer is the only one I know of.

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Oops--when I said Windsor Locks is away from everything, I was being very self-centered and just thinking it is away from where my relatives live--Windsor is much closer to them. I forgot all about the airport and Hartford. :blush:

 

One more question--and I'm sure a foolish one, but I just don't remember--you can still only board Windsor on one side, right? There is no track on the other side going north? So when I want to go north to Springfield for the RUN meeting, I should be on the same platform as when I go south?

You may be boarding on either side. If they're running both the tracks when you go to Springfield it will probably be on the new track 2 platform. If they have one track closed at the time it could be either one.

 

One thing to be aware also that I forgot about - I haven't heard if the WIndsor and WIndsor Locks CTrail ticket machines are installed yet (last I knew they were not.) If they still have not yet been installed then you need to take special attention to which operator you are boarding at Windsor - if it is a CTrail train then you'll simply board and buy the ticket from the conductor (you will not be surcharged since you are boarding at a TVM-less station) if it's Amtrak you need to pre-purchase a normal Amtrak ticket to avoid an onboard surcharge - although Amtrak accepts them, the Amtrak conductors cannot sell CTrail tickets - unless you are using a CTrail discount the Amtrak fare will be the exact same as a CTrail fare as long as you pre-purchase it using any of Amtrak's purchasing methods - NOTE THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO VERMONTER - VERMONTER DOES NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE COMMUTER RAIL. You can even do it at the last minute on the platform using Amtrak.com, the Amtrak app, or by dialing a phone agent - or you may pre-purchase those legs at a staffed station/Quik Trak machine if you prefer (New Haven Union, Hartford, and Springfield are the staffed Amtrak stations on the line.) The fares for the Shuttles and the Regional through trains to Springfield between New Haven and Springfield are flat and the same as the commuter rail and there are no buckets so you can buy at the last minute before you board.

 

As mentioned, the Vermonter is excluded from the program - if you are going to ride it at any point during your travels it is heavily recommended you pre-purchase that leg ASAP since it is still subject to increasing fare buckets between New Haven and Springfield and it also does not make all the stops on the line (It does not stop at Windsor.)

Edited by lordsigma

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It is the closest station, however CTDOT decided against a shuttle from the Windsor Locks station and instead decided that shuttle service between Hartford station, the Hartford convention center, and Bradley airport was a better option - the extreme limitations of the present Windsor Locks station is one of the reasons for the decision if I recall correctly (although there are others as well - namely an additional desire was having a convention center shuttle.) This decision was criticized by many although CTDOT has defended it saying their research stated that a Hartford shuttle was the way to go. Supposedly they are going to reconsider the matter once a new Windsor Locks station is built - if they did it would be a second shuttle and not affect the current service.

I imagine they charge for that shuttle to Hartford. If they ran one to Windsor Locks, it is short enough to be a complimentary ride. Maybe.

Do they also run a shuttle to Springfield from Bradley? I haven't been to Bradley in about 20 years...and that was on a diverted flight, that remained on the ramp, until it was cleared to JFK...

 

I do not know of a Shuttle from Springfield to Bradley unless the local Springfield bus authority, PVTA, operates one. It's also possible Peter Pan Bus Lines might run something but I do not know of anything. The Hartford Shuttle which I think they call the Bradley Flyer is the only one I know of.

 

Yeah, I did some looking and haven't been able to find any.

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Thanks for the information, everyone. :)

 

I arrived at Windsor on the shuttle--train 170 was running on time, and shuttle 470 was right there waiting for it across the platform.

 

The shuttle had engine 119, but I was extremely disappointed that the coach I was in (and the other one, too, I assume, although I did not get a good look) was the regular one with the new seats, not the cute one I was in last winter (the one that looked like the old Keystone ones with the facing seats in the middle). Nice conductor, as I've always found up here.

 

We came in on track 2, which was not there last winter, and waited for the gates to come up so we could cross to the station side. Same type of setup as Mystic, which I've done a lot, so it was familiar.

 

On the station side, there is construction going on at the parking lot end, but other than that, nothing that gets in the way of passengers boarding or detraining. No ticket machines yet.

 

I saw the CTrail engines up close (not the rest of the consist--I wasn't by the window, so didn't get a good look). I stick to my original impression--the engines, at least, do look spiffy :P. Now whether or not they can get me to Springfield and back will be a task for next weekend. :P

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The shuttle had engine 119, but I was extremely disappointed that the coach I was in (and the other one, too, I assume, although I did not get a good look) was the regular one with the new seats, not the cute one I was in last winter (the one that looked like the old Keystone ones with the facing seats in the middle). Nice conductor, as I've always found up here.

The Shuttle always runs with one ex-Metroliner cab car and in most cases a standard Amfleet I coach. These cab cars are also used on the Keystones. So it just sounds like this time you were seated in the standard coach and last winter you were in the cab car.

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