CTrail ride

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by Mystic River Dragon, Oct 14, 2018.

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  1. Oct 14, 2018 #1

    Mystic River Dragon

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    Mystic River Dragon

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    I started out from Windsor, CT, to get the 9:10 CTrail commuter train to Springfield, MA. The day did not start too well--I waited in the rain for the train, which was delayed half an hour because the gates at Windsor had gotten stuck in the down position, with the lights flashing, and the CTrail train had to wait for the southbound Amtrak shuttle to get to Hartford before it could start out. There were two nice gentlemen railfanning at Windsor, and talking with them kept me from being bored.

    Finally, the train came, and things got a lot better! It had three passenger cars (red-striped I think?) plus that handsome red and black engine, whose number was 6695. But the best part was the crew--nice young guys--they pulled in, and the conductor said "Here we are, finally!" in a nice cheerful voice, and then he helped me up the steps. For mobility information, Windsor is nowhere near ready. That first step is very high from the platform, and there are only a few parking spaces right now.

    I liked the car, too--seats in a pretty blue, and a lot were facing each other, which I like, so I sat in one of those. Then the conductor came along with another young man (he might have been training), and I told him I was a senior, and he told me the fare was $2.25, and the other young man said "I have a quarter I can put in for her," so I got a discount on the discount! [​IMG]

    We talked a bit about the trains, and I told them I was going to a rail group meeting, which they thought was interesting. Then I told them I was going down to New Haven tomorrow, and the conductor said he would be on the train that gets to Windsor around 10:30, and I said I would try to get that one unless I was up too late watching the Red Sox and had to get a later one.

    Beautiful trip along the Connecticut River almost the whole way. The engine was on the rear, but the car I was in (the first one) seemed to have a setup like SEPTA--an engineer in a little cubicle in the front.

    Then we got to Springfield, and things went downhill again. The last step down was so far up from the platform that it was scary, and the conductor had gone off to help a man in a wheelchair. A nice (and strong!) woman helped me down that last step.

    I am sorry to say this for any of you who live there, but I found Springfield an extremely sad city--at least where I was. I got my Amtrak shuttle ticket for the return trip, then went downstairs to look at the new station. From the outside, the building is beautiful, but downstairs seems to be a bus station, with a Dunkin Donuts, Subway, and convenience store, and that's it. I did look at a CTrail ticket machine, and they do take cash, so that is good to know for the future. Is that the final version of the station? Or are they building more elsewhere?

    Between the rain and the depressing city and lots of buses all over the place, I felt that perhaps a vanilla creme donut from Dunkin Donuts was in order, so I had that and a small cup of coffee. I sat on an old wooden bench, and those were nice, plus there are nice arches, so they have tried to make the architecture nice.

    Then I went over to the RUN meeting (I will post all about that on the advocacy thread after I look over my notes).

    Amtrak shuttle back to Windsor--train 467, and we had engine 63. (They are still P-42s up here, right?) I sat next to a very nice gentleman who was at the RUN meeting, and we had a nice conversation.

    Very nice Amtrak conductor on the way back--honestly, I love the New England conductors! [​IMG] At Windsor, he helped me down the last step, but it was okay anyway--lower than the commuter rail.

    While waiting for the hotel shuttle to pick me up, I had another treat--an Amtrak shuttle (engine number 106) went by northbound. [​IMG]
     
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  2. Oct 14, 2018 #2

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

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    Great report! Thanks for sharing!

    Yep, the Shuttle still runs with a P42 (or a P40 every once in a while). And it's going to stay that way until Amtrak finally buys some new diesels (probably Chargers) for use outside of Cali and the midwest.
     
  3. Oct 14, 2018 #3

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

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    So overall you would say that you liked CTrail and didn't feel like the cars were particularly old or loud?
     
  4. Oct 14, 2018 #4

    Mystic River Dragon

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    Mystic River Dragon

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    The rest of the ride: (cpotisch--wait til the end, the answer to your question is there [​IMG])

    I took CTrail today from Windsor to New Haven. The train was on time. I did not get the locomotive number because I was too busy admiring it as it came into the station [​IMG]. I had the same conductor as yesterday (which I was trying for, because I wanted to fill him in on the RUN meeting and what they said about CTrail--he was happy that it was all positive). I asked him about the young man who had been with him, and he said he's not crew, he just loves trains and rides with them sometimes. [​IMG]

    The scenery is not as nice as it is going north along the river, but I looked for the transit-oriented development along the line that the speaker had shown pictures of, so that was interesting.

    cpotisch--to answer your question about the old or loud cars--yes, they were old. They were also cleaner than any other old cars I've ever seen. They may have gotten bargain basement equipment, but they are making it look as good as they can. Clean, with no torn seats or coffee stains on the floors. They have a lovely, sweet-sounding horn that is just plain cozy. Other than that, I never noticed any noise at all, except for one woman who boarded at Hartford and had a movie on too loud. The train itself ran quietly, I thought.

    The people running CTrail, from the CT DOT man who spoke at the RUN meeting, to the conductor on the train, are proud of this service and have an intense desire for it to be a success.

    You may have guessed by now--I love CTrail! [​IMG]
     
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  5. Oct 15, 2018 #5

    lordsigma

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    lordsigma

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    You may or may not have noticed a big hole/pit at Springfield depending On which track you disembarked/boarded. They are presently building a new high level platform there. There is a new area for Amtrak in the downstairs area and I’ve heard they’re going to move when the platform is done.
     
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  6. Oct 15, 2018 #6

    Mystic River Dragon

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    Mystic River Dragon

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    Well, I'm not sure if it was a hole, but there was a huge drop between the last train step and the ground--I needed help getting down.
     
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  7. Oct 15, 2018 #7

    lordsigma

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    lordsigma

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    Yes the low level platforms there Are quite low and that last step is a big one, and sometimes they drop you off on a walkway that isn’t even really a platform. But I meant you may have noticed a large construction site between two of the tracks where it’s all dug out. If you got out/boarded on track 8 (closest to station) you may not have seen the construction as it would have been blocked by the train. As I’m sure you would agree the new platform is really going to be a plus to make it easier for folks.

    It Was supposed to have been done when they opened the new union station terminal but they had some delays due to the width of the designed platform and some historical concerns - the city really wanted them to preserve the look of the old canopy structure which also added complexity to the project.
     
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  8. Dec 11, 2018 #8

    VTTrain

    VTTrain

    VTTrain

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    I can't argue with your assessment of Springfield.  Other than the Basketball Hall of Fame and a new casino, it does not have much to offer.  
     
  9. Dec 28, 2018 #9

    Mystic River Dragon

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    Mystic River Dragon

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    Update on CTrail--

    I rode it from Windsor to New Haven this morning. I got the 11:08, which was on time. It had three cars behind the spiffy black and red engine.

    Just as before, the cars were clean and the conductor was wonderful. The conductors (at least those I have run into) are young, polite, enthusiastic, and proud of their commuter rail.

    At Windsor, besides myself, the passengers boarding were a young man doing what I was doing--visiting family (who were seeing him off) and switching trains in NHV to go further south, another man traveling alone (don't know where he was going), and a couple with two young children and no luggage (probably a sightseeing day?).

    A lot of people boarded at Hartford, and from there on, my coach was about half-full.

    Hardly anyone boarded after Hartford, perhaps because it was after the morning commuter time?

    On the other hand, taking the Amtrak shuttle the other day, there was one okay conductor and one snarky one--not the really nice ones I remember from several years ago. It was jam-packed, they were refusing CTrail tickets (which I know they are doing out of necessity, but they could have been less snarky about it), and now that they aren't using the old coaches, there was nothing special about it.

    I loved CTrail the first time I rode it, and I still do. From now on I will take Amtrak to NHV and take CTrail the rest of the way, even though it will mean time between trains, partly to give them business and a higher passenger count, partly because they seem to really, truly care and want this to work, and I think that attitude should be rewarded.
     
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  10. Dec 28, 2018 #10

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

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    Sorry, what “old coaches”? The equipment on the Shuttle hasn’t changed in many years (or maybe ever). It’s still the same old P42, Amfleet(s), and an ex-Metroliner cab car.
     
  11. Dec 28, 2018 #11

    Mystic River Dragon

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    Mystic River Dragon

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    The ex-Metroliner cab car seems to have disappeared, and that was my favorite :( .
     
  12. Dec 28, 2018 #12

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

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    Unless there are locos on both ends (of a 1-2 car single-level train), it is physically impossible for them to not use one of those cab cars.
     
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  13. Dec 29, 2018 #13

    Mystic River Dragon

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    Mystic River Dragon

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    Well, then, they must have redone the inside and made it the new seats? :unsure:

    What I liked was the old setup like the old Keystones, where half the seats faced one way, half the other, and if you were lucky you got to sit in the middle row where they met and had lots of legroom.

    It is also possible that they are on there and I have just been unlucky and ended up in the other (newer) one each time? :unsure:

    Still going to take CTrail in the future anyway, because they are so nice. :)
     

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