New Haven Railroad's Electrified Zone, The Robert Liljestrand w/ Richard Abrams
New Haven Railroad's Electrified Zone, The Robert Liljestrand w/ Richard Abrams
New Haven Railroad's Electrified Zone, The Robert Liljestrand w/ Richard Abrams
New Haven Railroad's Electrified Zone, The Robert Liljestrand w/ Richard Abrams
New Haven Railroad's Electrified Zone, The Robert Liljestrand w/ Richard Abrams

New Haven Railroad's Electrified Zone, The Robert Liljestrand w/ Richard Abrams

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New Haven Railroad's Electrified Zone, The Robert Liljestrand w/ Richard Abrams
The New Haven Railroads Electrified Zone By Robert Liljestrand w/ Richard Abramson
Soft Cover Indexed  Many black & white photos.   48 Pages

Introduction  3
Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Terminal to SS-22 New Rochelle6
Passenger Electrics 13
Freight Electrics20
Electric Switchers26
MU Cars31
Locations Around the Electric Zone36
Visitors Under the Wires 47

The New Haven Railroad had a well-deserved reputation for being an innovator. Despite its chronic economic difficulties, the NH's management somehow always managed to position it on the leading edge of the railroad technology of the time.
One of the New Haven's greatest technological claims to fame is that it was a leader in the field of railroad electrification. The New Haven's first foray into electric railroading took place in 1895, when it electrified the Nantasket Beach Branch in eastern Massachusetts using trolley-like self-propelled passenger cars powered by DC motors. Steam railroad branch lines had recently come under assault from electric trolley companies, which often offered cheaper and more frequent passenger service. The seven-mile Nantasket Beach Branch was the first steam railroad line in America to be converted to electric operation.
The electrification of the Nantasket Beach Branch was such a great success that the New Haven converted several more short branch lines in the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut from steam to electric operation between 1897 and 1908. Like the Nantasket Beach Branch, all of these early electrified lines were operated using trolley-like DC powered passenger equipment.
During the closing years of the 19th Century, the New Haven's management believed that all the suburban branch lines in the Boston area would eventually be converted to electric operation. Thus, Boston's South Station, which was opened in 1899, was designed and built with electrification in mind. It is a little-known fact that South Station had an unused underground loop track that was intended for future use by electric commuter trains.
On May 7th, 1903 the New York state legislature passed a smoke abatement law banning steam locomotives from the tracks in the vicinity of Grand Central Terminal after July 3rd, 1908. Grand Central Terminal, in the heart of New York City, was the western end point of the New Haven's "Shore Line Route" passenger main line. The New Haven's trains gained access to Grand Central Terminal by means of operating rights over a twelve-mile stretch of the New York Central Railroad via the famous Park Avenue Tunnel.
The law did not stipulate what other type of locomotive should replace the steam engines. However, the only truly practical option to steam power was electrification.
The New York Central chose to build a minimal terminal operation using small switcher-type electric locomotives powered by 600 volt DC transmitted by third rail. New York Central passenger trains would swap locomotives, steam for electric or electric for steam depending upon the direction of travel, a few miles outside New York City.
The New Haven, since it used the New York Central's tracks to gain access to Grand Central Terminal, had no choice but to adopt the New York Central's DC power scheme. However, the New Haven, having had a positive experience with its previous branch line electrification efforts, decided to leverage this opportunity by electrifying its passenger main line all the way from New York City to Boston.
Because of the much greater distances involved, the New Haven decided to use 11,000 volt AC power transmitted by catenary wires for its main line electrification. Because the New York Central's tracks on the approach to Grand Central Terminal were to be electrified using DC third rail, the New Haven's electric locomotives had to be able to run off both AC catenary and DC third rail.
The New Haven ordered thirty-five AC/DC electric passenger locomotives from Westinghouse in 1905 to equip its electrified main line. These short box-cab locomotives were known on the New Haven as the EP-1 class. They were the first units of an electric fleet that would eventually expand to include at least twelve different classes of electric passenger, freight, and switching locomotives as well as a substantial roster of electric MU passenger cars.
On July 24th, 1907, the New Haven commenced revenue passenger operations behind electric locomotives over the newly electrified main line between Grand Central Terminal and New Rochelle, NY. By October 1907, the New Haven's main line had been electrified all the way to Stamford, CT. In 1915, electric trains operated all the way to the city of New Haven.
Unfortunately, the New Haven's grand scheme to run catenary wires all the way to Boston came to a halt in the wake of a serious financial crisis perpetrated by robber baron J. P. Morgan and his henchman Charles S. Mellen. The two men had brought the New Haven to the brink of bankruptcy by the end of the first decade of the 20th Century, leaving the railroad with insufficient funds to complete the main line electrification project. The city of New Haven would remain the eastern end terminal of the railroad's so-called "electrified zone", with passenger trains changing power at New Haven Union Station and freight trains changing power at the city's Cedar Hill freight yards.
In 1918, the New Haven installed AC catenary over the passenger tracks along the new Hell Gate Bridge Route to New York's Penn Station all the way to the Pennsylvania Railroad's Sunnyside Yards. The Pennsylvania installed catenary the short distance from the Sunnyside Yards to Penn Station in 1934, finally allowing New Haven electric locomotives to proceed all the way into Penn Station.
With branch line passenger service losing money all over the country due to highway competition, the New Haven was forced to abandon the last of its early trolley-like DC branch line operations during the 1930s. However, the four-track electrified main line between New York City and the city of New Haven, as well as the electrified branches to the Connecticut bedroom communities of Danbury and New Canaan, remained the near exclusive domain of electric trains right up through the mid to late 1950s.
The New Haven's broad experience with electric operations eased its transition from steam to diesel power. In the simplest terms, a diesel-electric is really just an electric locomotive that carries its own power plant along with it. For this reason, the New Haven was one of the first railroads in America to purchase diesel-electric locomotives in quantity and to discard steam power in favor of diesels.
By the 1950s the versatile diesel locomotive, which could go anywhere, made the concept of electrification appear obsolete. For the first time, the New Haven's management began to seriously consider ridding itself of electric operations and the great expense of having to maintain two different types of locomotives, one of which could only be used on the electrified part of the railroad, and the costly power generation and transmission infrastructure.
The pre-eminence of electric power on the main line west of the city of New Haven was broken for the first time during early 1957 when the railroad took delivery of the TALGO train John Quincy Adams. Powering the John Quincy Adams, were a pair of Fairbanks-Morse P-12-42 diesel-electric-electric locomotives. These revolutionary new locomotives were the first diesels on the New Haven Railroad capable of operating as DC electrics with their diesel engines shut down on the approach to Grand Central Terminal.
Shortly afterwards, the New Haven accepted the first of sixty FL-9 diesel-electric-electric locomotives from the General Motors Electro-Motive Division. These locomotives, which could also operate as electrics on DC third rail power with their diesel engines shut down, allowed the New Haven to drastically scale back its electric operations. By 1961, the only electric locomotives still running on the New Haven were the ten EP-5 class passenger units delivered by General Electric in 1955.
However, by this time the New Haven was bankrupt. Its trustees sought to study all aspects of the railroad's operations in an effort to determine where savings might be found. The trustees discovered that the underutilization of the railroad's electric power distribution infrastructure, idled by the retirement of the majority of the electric locomotive fleet, was costing the New Haven a great deal of money.
Unfortunately, the few remaining retired electric locomotives that had not yet been scrapped had deteriorated to the point where they were beyond economical repair. However, as luck would have it, the New Haven was presented with an opportunity to purchase twelve second-hand electric freight engines from the Norfolk & Western Railway. Eleven of these EF-4 units were put into service during the fall of 1963, leading to a renaissance of electric freight operations on the New Haven Railroad that lasted up until the Penn Central merger in 1969.

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