Transit Adventures

Springfield Shuttle Train #470 to a great layover at the half abandoned and historic Union Station

Greetings from the Amtrak platform where I post via some AmtrakConnect wifi from the Shuttle Train I arrived on a few hours in the station that hasn’t moved and is still idling in the station.

After getting off Regional #170 I walk up the platform to my waiting 2 car shuttle train that looks very short. There is a man also making the transfer with a tall and log box and the conductor asks what is inside. He says a puppet and the conductor jokes that they should charge the puppet for its own seat. He boards the train with what is oversized luggage and stows it at the end of the car. I board and grab a seat at the end of the ex-Metroliner cab car just before the Crew Members only behind this point flag. They make an announcement that we will be sitting for another 15 minutes until our 10:30 departure and that all passengers must have an eTicket. Tickets are not sold on board the train.

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  • 10:24 – We can leave in five minutes, please take a minute to review the safety information card, he says to have your etickets out because they are now collecting and Wallingford will be our next stop in about 25 minutes. All boarding will be done from the middle of the train The train is an odd collection of those with luggage and those without, a group of 3 come and sit by me, so much for a quiet ride.
  • We leave at 10:31, I already have my computer out and simply open up the PDF and have the conductor scan my screen. It works fine. Across from me the group of the 3 has made two separate transactions, the conductor ends up scanner all 3 tickets, not addressing the two of them by name. He also asks “Have you been to Windsor Locks before.” This group ran into the station during the layover to visit Ducken Donuts. There clearly making the day trip, hence no luggage. I think the question is because travelers book tickets their expecting taxis to take them to Bradley Airport, someone else I overhear announce she will get off at Hartford instead of Windsor for this reason.
  • 10:35 – curve off the NEC and pass a large yard with a bunch of old freight cars. I’ve ridden this line recently enough I don’t really pay attention getting website stuff done, the track feels less smooth then the Northeast Corridor.
  • 10:47 – Wallingford, 3 get off, four get on with quite a bit of luggage, I wonder if there also connecting to the Lake Shore like me?
  • 10:56 – Meriden with its crowded station of bus passengers, there four buses stopped outside the station. I guess they pulse at 10:57. I can’t tell how many people are getting on and off. I look in the ticket office and notice the same old ticket again, still working that looks like he dates to the era of the Penn Central. We leave Meridan and follow the Connecticut River.
  • 11:07 – stop at Berlin, 8 minutes late. I’m using AmtrakConnect and its working much better (with so many fewer passengers) than when riding the Regional. We keep going by industry and fields of Connecticut.
  • 11:15 – come to a stop in West Hartford, waiting for Southbound Shuttle #493 running 9 minutes late to pass us, it does at 11:18
  • 11:24 – arrive at Hartford, most of the car gets off. It’s a slow process with luggage needing to be carried down the stairs to the one open vestibule where I assume both doors have been opened. We finally leave at 11:26, 5 minutes to Windsor. We leave Hartford, passing a small yard.
  • 11:33 – see the sign for Windsor Connecticut’s first town 1633 and pull up at the nice historic station house. Were now 11 minutes late. The grade crossing lights shining in the windows. The group getting off in Windsor Locks, two siblings bringing a best friend to the their parents comment on how “Our station isn’t nearly as nice as this one. It’s literally a bus stop.”
  • 11:37 – Pass a track work gang on a siding, the condcutor comes back for Windsor Locks, the group comments “They should just drop us off anywhere. This isn’t even as nice as a bus stop.”
  • 11:40 – stop at the “Not even a bus stop” Windsor Locks Station, 18 minutes to Springfield. We then go through the town of Windsor Locks.
  • 11:42 – pass the decrepit original Windsor Locks Station that I visited during my Windsor Locks layover.
  • 11:44 – cross over the Connecticut River for the first time today.

We follow I-91 as we approach Springfield. I look back and notice the crew only sign on my seat is gone. We slowly pass the basketball hall of fame as the conductors get up. They come through and verbally announce Springfield is the last stop to the car and to exit in the middle of the of the car and to then walk around the rear of our train and into the station. We arrive into Springfield’s decrepit station on Platform 2 (the stop has four platforms and 8 tracks, no tracks have been abandoned here) at High Noon as I notice a videographer at the southern end of the platforms.


I slowly leave my train and get my pictures of the restricted platform area of this depressed station of excess tracks. I then walk into the station building directly at track level and pick up my ticket for the Lake Shore Limited. I ask if there is any good place for lunch and am told “There is Nothing around here, just a Subway in the bus station a block south.” I go down the staircase and to the modern remains of the historic Union Station and through the new entrance across from the historic facade with just a modern awning inset into the railroad embankment.

I walk down to Main Street and their plenty of restaurants. I go walk down Main Street and have my first view of the huge, abandoned facade of the historic station with a bunch of fenced off loading docks. I then walk another block and go to the post office. I need to buy stamps. I feel like I’ve haven’t left New York with a long line and no automated postage machines. I buy my stamps, mail my letters and try and find lunch. There a totally packed cajon place and I go to the breakfast place (open until 3:00) next doors. In run my spanards and their $7 plate of Spanish Food is excellent and filling.

I leave the station and am happy to notice that the train is 30 minutes late in Worcester, more time for walking. I then walk out on a pedestrian bridge I’ve noticed that leads over the railroad tracks between I-90 and the Connecticut River Bridge that the Lake Shore will soon take me over. The walkway continues to a pedestrian grade crossing over the track used by Amtrak’s line up to Springfield that I just arrived on the Shuttle to.

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I then walk back to the station and get my full photo essay of the exterior of the building and go back up, remembering to take the elevator, the floors are labeled simply track 2 and track 1. The station is much more crowded; I confirm that the Lake Shore is a half hour late with an agent. I head outside to some benches to finish typing this summery and watch some trains. I’ve just seen a Connecticut Souther Railroad Caboose leading a mixed good trains through the station.