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Beacon Hill (train)

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Beacon Hill (train)

Beacon Hill
A Bombardier LRC in use with the Beacon Hill in 1980
Service type Commuter rail
Status Discontinued
Predecessor Clamdigger
First service 1978
Last service 1981
Former operator(s) Amtrak
Start Boston
Stops 12
End New Haven
Distance travelled 157 miles (253 km)
Average journey time 3 hours
Service frequency Daily (weekdays only)
Train number(s) 153, 154
Route map
Dist. Station
0 mi 
0 km 
Boston South Station
1.0 mi 
1.6 km 
Boston Back Bay
12 mi 
19 km 
Route 128
MA/RI border
44 mi 
71 km 
57 mi 
92 km 
East Greenwich
63 mi 
101 km 
Wickford Junction
71 mi 
114 km 
76 mi 
122 km 
88 mi 
142 km 
RI/CT border
96 mi 
154 km 
106 mi 
171 km 
New London
113 mi 
182 km 
East Lyme
124 mi 
200 km 
Old Saybrook
136 mi 
219 km 
148 mi 
238 km 
157 mi 
253 km 
New Haven

The Beacon Hill was a daily 157-mile (253 km) commuter rail service operated by Amtrak between Boston, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut, from 1978 to 1981. The Beacon Hill was one of the last long-haul commuter services operated by Amtrak. Service consisted of a single rush-hour round trip, with service eastbound to Boston in the morning and westbound to New Haven in the evening.


Previous service

After the New Haven Railroad folded into Penn Central in 1969, most commuter service between New Haven and Providence was terminated. (Commuter service west of New Haven continued under Penn Central and Conrail then Metro-North Railroad, while Boston-Providence service was taken over by the MBTA in 1975). The Clamdigger operated as a daily local from New London to New Haven until 1972, then later from Providence to New Haven beginning in 1976.[1][2]

Beacon Hill

Geographic map of Beacon Hill service

On April 30, 1978, the Clamdigger was replaced with the Beacon Hill, which ran in the reverse direction to serve the Boston commuter market rather than the New Haven and New York markets.[3] This left the Beacon Hill as the only commuter service between New Haven and Providence, except for a daily Westerly-Providence train subsidized by Rhode Island.[4] The Beacon Hill supplemented Amtrak's existing intercity trains on the Corridor, which made fewer stops.[5]

The Beacon Hill made station stops at New Haven Union Station, Branford, Madison, Old Saybrook, East Lyme (Niantic), New London Union Station, Mystic, Westerly, Shannock, Kingston, Wickford Junction, East Greenwich, Providence, Route 128, Back Bay, and South Station. Running time was slightly over 3 hours, with service on weekdays plus Sundays.[5][6]

On November 3, 1979, the Southwest Corridor was closed for reconstruction. All MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak service was routed via the Midland Branch instead. The Midland does not pass through Back Bay station; a shuttle train from South Station to Back Bay was available.[4]

In December 1979, the Westerly-Providence trip was canceled, leaving the Beacon Hill as the only commuter service in southern Rhode Island.[4] On February 20, 1981, MBTA Providence/Stoughton Line service was back to Attleboro. Pawtucket/Central Falls was abandoned and Providence became an Amtrak-only stop.[4]

When service began in 1978, the Beacon Hill departed South Station in Boston at 5:05pm.[5] However, beginning February 2, 1980, the departure time was moved to 4:20pm and the train became weekdays-only[7] This prevented workers on a 9-to-5 schedule - a major segment of the commuter market - from using the train.

Beginning in late 1980, the Beacon Hill frequently ran with one of Amtrak's two LRC test trainsets.[8]

Cancellation and modern service

This MBTA station at Wickford Junction was opened in 2012 across the tracks from the former Beacon Hill station

The Beacon Hill was discontinued effective October 24, 1981, victim both of Amtrak cost-cutting and the unwillingness of state governments to provide necessary funding, as well as declining ridership.[9] Regional (now branded as Northeast Regional) service continues and has been supplemented by Acela Express service, but those intercity services stop only at larger towns and cities and are not priced for commuter service.

In 1990, the Connecticut Department of Transportation began Shore Line East service between Old Saybrook and New Haven, with 4 daily trains. The service was extended to New London in 1996 and now includes 15 daily trains in each direction.

MBTA service to Providence resumed on February 1, 1988, restoring commuter rail service to Rhode Island. The Pawtucket/Central Falls station remained closed and was replaced in 1990 by South Attleboro station just across the Massachusetts border. After years of planning by RIDOT, the Providence/Stoughton Line was extended south to T.F. Green Airport on December 6, 2010, and to the former Beacon Hill station at Wickford Junction on April 23, 2012.[4]

ConnDOT and RIDOT have long-term plans to extend Shore Line East and MBTA service to meet at Westerly (Amtrak station), which would provide a two-seat ride roughly matching the Beacon Hill.[10][11] RIDOT also plans to add an infill station at East Greenwich near the former station site.[11]


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External links

  • timetable from 1979Beacon Hill
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