|Berlin, CT|| Northeast Regional:|
New Haven — Springfield Shuttle
|Vermonter||Windsor Locks, CT|
Hartford is the state capital of Connecticut and a train station has existed on today's site since 1843. The current station was first built in 1889 when the tracks were raised onto a viaduct and grade-separated through downtown Hartford. The station is made of Brownstone in the Richardson Romanesque style. The station was severely damaged during a 1914 fire and it was rebuilt with modifications designed by architect Frank Mellor who added a third story and a fireproof roof. Outside of the station a cornerstone says 1914, not 1889 because of these renovations. In 1965 Union Station was first renovated away from being just a station used by the railroad with the central waiting room gutted of most of its benches and the extra office space leased to office tenants. In the 1980s the station was purchased by the Greater Hartford Transit District and received its most recent renovation. This included building the new Harford Transportation Center underneath the railroad viaduct and relocating the Amtrak ticket office here instead of in the historic station along with intercity Greyhound and Peter Pan buses that stop outside on the opposite side of the railway viaduct from the station. The former station building is now 1 Union Place and is still open to the public. Various offices and a restaurant also use the space that has included some non-historic modern additions into the former train hall.
Train service to Hartford presently consists of Amtrak's daily Vermonter and once a day (two trips northbound Friday & Saturday, southbound Saturday & Sunday) Northeast Regional through trains. Finally New Haven — Springfield Shuttle trains connect with Northeast Regional trains to and from Boston making 4 daily round-trips (5 on Sunday). Hartford is the station responsible for the majority of the of the Inland Route's ridership although the station's low-level platform configuration that allows not all doors to open and slows down boarding. Trains can lose about five minutes making the stop loading and unloading passengers. There are a few minutes of padding in the Shuttle train's timetables but Hartford should be a high candidate to get a high-level platform for level boarding to speed station stops. ConnDOT is currently beginning the initial construction (adding cabling for PTC) for the New Haven — Hartford — Springfield (NHHS) Commuter Rail Line that will indirectly turn the New Haven — Springfield Shuttle in 2016 into an all-day commuter oriented service.
Trains in Harford stop at what is now just one remaining track (there is still space for at least two more) whose low-level platform is on the viaduct above downtown Hartford between Church Street and Asylum Street. This platform is along the west side of the track and has a full-length wooden canopy with an iron framework that seems like dates from the station's opening or renovation and is full length. The edge of the platform has a chain-link fence Across from the track. This area once housed a second track making this platform an island platform. On the other side of the track is a second former canopied platform that is fenced off and now seems like a porch for 1 Union Place (the historic station) with some doors that open to it from the second floor staircases and balconies up to it. Signage is minimal with a few blue Hartford signs and a larger one hanging from the canopy above this 'porch.'
To leave the platform there is an enclosed by glass staircase (with a bench before the doors outside) and elevator. There is also a skylight. These lead down to the modern Transportation Center. This transit center looks modern with florescent lighting and modern silver walls. There is an Amtrak ticket office along one wall and a Greyhound/Peter Pan Office along another. Amtrak has a few QuikTrak Machines. There are both benches and cafe table seating for waiting passengers. Announcements for both Amtrak trains and buses are done over a communal PA system that can be heard from the platforms. Going out the doors to the west side of the transportation center leads to a line of nearly 20 bus gates; all beneath the railway viaduct with old iron supports visible. Above the bus bays are white tiles with colorful streaks running through them. This mural is Movement in Space by Cleve Gray and is more than 600 feet long running above all the bus bays. A crosswalk leads across the bus loop from the entrance to a passenger pick-up and drop-off area and taxi stand along Spruce Street. The sidewalk here just outside the station has a similar long iron canopy structure.
The east side of the subterranean transit center has a short staircase up to the Grand Union Station former waiting room. This room is bare except for a few built in benches along the east wall. The walls are painted white with green molding. The ceiling is flat with gold light fixtures that don't look too original. Wrought iron staircases (above the automatic doors down into the Transportation Center) lead up to doors out to the former Track 1 that have No Re-Entry signs on them. Above the doors is a mural showing a steam train and an electric one, although electrification never reached Hartford. Other staircases on each side of the hall lead to the north and south offices. The South Offices have an ugly, modern glass addition (you can look into someone's office) on the balcony overlooking the space. Continuing out to the street, the depot is along Union Place with the main entrance across from the end of Allyn Street.
All photos taken on 20 March, 2013
Last Updated: 18 August, 2012