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By Jack M. Turner

    After riding Metro North’s commuter lines to New Caanan, CT and Danbury, CT in August 2010, my lone regret was being unable to include the line to Waterbury.  As I drove through surprisingly beautiful Connecticut countryside from Hyannis, MA to Waterbury, CT on a mid-October 2013 Saturday, satisfaction grew as I anticipated riding the route I had previously missed.

    A three car train with the locomotive in push mode on the rear was waiting as I parked near the railroad platform.  With this being a weekend, there was no problem finding a parking space and there was no parking charge.  Departing Waterbury at 4:08pm, the train quickly left the city behind and joined a small river for a scenic route that featured views of several large hills to the north and forested countryside on both sides.  The late afternoon train was surprisingly busy but there were a few vacant seats in the 3 and 2 across rows.   After pausing at Naugstuck, Beacon Falls, and Seymour, the train cut between vast warehouses and stopped at the next stop, Ansonia. 


Cab control car 6119 “Manitoga” at Waterbury


A scenic river view from the train east of Waterbury

    Beyond the next stop, Derby-Shelton, falling leaves blown down in the train’s wake made for a nice view as we passed more forested areas.  Several nice homes appeared on the left side as we approached the suburbs of Bridgeport and at 4:56pm we joined the Northeast Corridor.  Seven minutes later we pulled into Bridgeport using the Track 3 platform on the west side of the station.  This made for a nice place to sit on a bench and watch train after train pass along the busy Northeast Corridor.  Included were a number of Amtrak trains that ran non-stop through Bridgeport on a center track, a few Amtrak regional trains that stopped at Bridgeport, and numerous Metro North trains linking New Haven and New York.


The river reappears farther east


A northbound Metro North train to New Haven seen from my train arriving in Bridgeport


Metro North engine 115 pushed the train from Waterbury to Bridgeport


A northbound Amtrak Regional seen from the west platform at Bridgeport

    It is worth noting that the Bridgeport station has a fairly large waiting room, restrooms, and a café counter in the west side station building.  The east side has only a small waiting room with no facilities.  There are a few fast food places within walking distance, however, I decided to enjoy the parade of trains during the layover.  After about an hour on the west side platform, I walked downstairs, through the pedestrian tunnel beneath the tracks, and upstairs to the east side platform.  The railway action continued to be heavy though the view was a little less to my liking than it had been on the western platform.  One benefit was the view of an arriving Long Island Sound ferry boat as the harbor was directly behind the east platform.


A northbound Metro North train seen from the west platform at Bridgeport


A northbound Amtrak Regional seen in the evening from the east platform


A southbound Amtrak Regional seen from the east side platform


One benefit of the east side platform at Bridgeport is great views of the Long Island Sound ferry

    The return train departed Bridgeport at 6:43pm and once again was well patronized.  I had observed 15 trains during the layover, a solid number considering this was on a weekend day.  The consist for the return trip was the same one that had brought me eastward though engine # 115 was now leading.  The train spent the layover on a siding beyond the station and pulled up for boarding moments before departure.

    With autumn darkness enveloping the train, there were no scenic highlights to enjoy.  Three or four passengers were carried past the stop at Ansonia as the short platform necessitated unloading from the forward vestibule.  A clear announcement to this effect was made for the prior stop at Derby/Shelton, but none was heard as we approached Ansonia.  The unfortunate passengers waited patiently in the vestibule between the last two cars until the train began moving before hurrying forward to no avail.  Soon thereafter the conductor made an announcement admonishing passengers to detrain from the front vestibule at all stops except Waterbury.  Interestingly, the train did not stop and request permission to back up, rather, the carry-bys were dropped at the next stop, Seymour.  One had to wonder how these folks would get back to Ansonia and whether railroad management became aware of this issue.  After making the final two stops, we pulled into Waterbury at 7:37pm to conclude an enjoyable outing on the Metro North.

    The Waterbury train stop is located in close proximity to downtown and is within walking distance of the Courtyard Marriott hotel.  I found this hotel convenient, clean, and quiet, perfect for the purpose of taking a ride on the Metro North.  With free parking in a garage next to the hotel, scenic views on the south side, and a number of restaurants within a close drive, this is a great spot to stay when visiting this city.  The following morning I drove to New Haven to catch Amtrak back to Florida, an uneventful and fairly routine journey.  Avis has a rental counter inside the beautiful New Haven station which was convenient for my itinerary. 


A view from the Courtyard Marriott in Waterbury


Another view from the Courtyard Marriott


The front of Waterbury’s Courtyard Marriott


Front of the New Haven train station


Inside the New Haven station


Ticket windows in the New Haven station


This model train is displayed in the New Haven station


A classic Solari board lists upcoming train departures at New Haven

    Managing to ride the Cape Flyer from Boston to Hyannis in the morning and a commuter train between Waterbury and Bridgeport in late afternoon was quite an accomplishment as it required steady driving across three states and a fairly long day.  However, everything worked like clockwork and I was pleased to cover two interesting rail lines I had never ridden previously.

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