Speed Witch

R-1-b No. 3335 with EA-2 eastbound at Newington Junction. Kent Cochrane, c1947.

Less-than-Carload Freight

Less-than-CarLoad (or L.C.L.) traffic was always a challenge for the railroads, with many approaches attempted over the years to serve the freight house at every station along the line. Large industries could fill a car to its "loaded" capacity. This is not the maximum capacity of the car itself, but the minimum required by the railroad in weight or volume, for the shipper to receive a lower carload rate. The final cost was based on the actual weight of the shipment, or previously published rates for commodities that weren't billed by weight.

Shippers that couldn't meet the carload requirement paid a higher L.C.L rate due to the extra handling required. L.C.L traffic from one location wasn't all headed to the same destination. As a result, L.C.L traffic would frequently go to an L.C.L Transfer, where they would be unloaded, sorted, and loaded into cars for specific destinations before heading offline. Naturally, this delayed the shipments and cost money.

In many cities Freight Forwarding companies developed to compete with the railroad's own L.C.L. Transfers. The forwarding company would consolidate freight and would charge more than the railroad's carload rate, but less than the L.C.L rate. They would then be able to ship via the railroad under the carload rate. These companies would only ship to/from destinations where they were located, typically major cities. This had the effect of siphoning off L.C.L profits, resulting in an overall reduction in income for the railroad for the same amount of freight hauled.

L.C.L Routing

But getting the freight from each town to/from the L.C.L Transfer was also a challenge. In many cases it was originally handled on mixed passenger trains. A way car would bring freight to be loaded/unloaded at the station. For a branch line, especially one with little industry, this made sense. The car would have freight for all of the towns on the line. But depending on the amount of freight, this could delay passenger service as freight was loaded/unloaded. This approach was practical for express packages and mail, but not freight, and the New Haven had long abandoned this practice by the postwar era.

Handling such traffic on a local freight train wasn't always efficient either. If freight traffic was light enough, local freights (also sometimes called way freights or peddler freights) could stop and wait for a car to be partially loaded/unloaded at each station. But from a cost/efficiency standpoint, fewer trains handling more freight is the better option. A way car, with partial loads for several destinations, would then need to be spotted at each freight house on the line over the course of several days.

There is a way car in the Spring 1947 schedule via New Britain. The car was loaded for L.C.L for New Britain and Middletown via Harlem River. It would be spotted at New Britain for unloading on one day, then taken to Hartford on HDX-5 (the New Hartford Local) to be taken to Middletown the following day by HDX-7 (the Valley Local).

Fast Freight Service and Trucks

Although L.C.L traffic could be bound for any open freight station in North America, there were certain destinations more common than others. Freight Houses would have cars designated for specific destinations, such as Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, etc., and schedules for the movement of these cars was based on the typical amount of freight received for those destinations. They might be daily, or less frequent such as Monday-Wednesday-Friday so that they would always meet the car-load requirements.

Since these L.C.L cars did not have to be reloaded at a Transfer, and would run on the same trains each day, a given road would know when that car would be offline. By coordinating these single-destination L.C.L cars with other roads, they could work together to provide an advertised service to destinations hundreds of miles away. Aside from efficiencies and reducing costs, this Fast Freight Service was becoming more important as competition was increasing from trucks. New Britain was large enough to have several outbound cars loaded for the Speed Witch and other fast freights via the NYNH&H Freight House.

Ironically, in order to better compete with trucks, the railroads rostered sizeable fleets of their own to address the problem with small town L.C.L traffic. Instead of serving small towns with way cars, trucks could handle the lower volume of traffic, and bring them to larger freight houses or the L.C.L Transfers directly. Although L.C.L traffic was handled via truck at these stations, some cars would still be routed to freight houses, either carloads that didn't need to be transferred or deliveries to the bulk tracks.

Speed Witch

The Speed Witch was a Fast Freight on the New Haven, consisting primarily of less-than-carload (L.C.L.) traffic bound for the Pennsylvania Railroad via Bay Ridge. The Speed Witch advertised overnight freight service in 1947 from Boston to Baltimore, MD; Enola (Harrisburg), PA; Potomac Yard, Va; or Williamsport, PA. Many other destinations are listed with 2-3 day delivery.


NE-1 was a Boston to Bay Ridge train, NE-2 was a reverse move from Bay Ridge, but only to Cedar Hill. In busy years, such as 1947, there was a First NE-1 (1/NE-1) from Boston, and a Second NE-1 (2/NE-1) from Bridgeport.

1/NE-1 received freight from locals in Boston, (including Pawtucket), Providence and New Haven; along with through freights ZP-1, CP-1, EWP-1 and WP-3 in Providence, and N-1 in New Haven.

2/NE-1 received freight from locals in Bridgeport and Stamford (including Port Chester); plus through traffic from ANE-1 in Bridgeport and HQ-4 in Stamford.

These trains connected to the PRR trains B-3 to Baltimore and NE-1 to Philadelphia via floats at Greenville, NJ.


ANE-1 was a Hartford to Bridgeport leg of the Speed Witch, connecting to Second NE-1 at Bridgeport. EA-2 was the reverse of the schedule, and not advertised as the Speed Witch.

ANE-1 received freight from SN-1 and locals in Hartford and picked up cars in New Britain, from YN-1 in Plainville, and from locals in Waterbury.

ANE-1 was regularly hauled by R-1-b No. 3335 until the train was eliminated. I don't have any evidence that this train ran with other motive power, but No. 3335 was condemned on November 9, 1948.

A January 31, 1949, supplement for the Arranged Freight Train Service indicates that YN-1 protects the closing for L.C.L at the freight house in New Britain at 5.45 pm and establishes connections with NE-1 at Cedar Hill. Prior to that date, the freight house traffic was for ANE-1.

ANE-1 and EA-2 on the Layout

The schedules and blocking remain consistent throughout the era I'm modeling until they were annulled sometime after Autumn 1948. The first Monday of November in 1948 is the 1st, and R-1-b No. 3335 was condemned on November 9, so I will assume that they are still running during my 1948 sessions.

However, both trains run outside of our operating session schedule. A cut of cars left by EA-2 on Track No. 5 waits for the crews to arrive at the start of the session. Crews will block a cut of cars for ANE-1 to be left on Track No. 5 to be picked up after a session. If I do decide to model the train at some point in the future, it would be EA-2 running late.


Speed Witch

Except Saturday and Sunday


  • R-1 1400 tons from Hartford

  • R-1 2800 tons from Waterbury


  • Hartford L 7.35pm (from SN-1 and HDX 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

  • New Britain A 7.55 (from local industries)

  • New Britain L 8.05

  • Plainville A 8.15 (from YN-1)

  • Plainville L 8.30

  • Waterbury A 9.00 (from HDX 1, 2, 3, 4, 11)

  • Waterbury L 9.30

  • Ansonia by 10.00 (does not stop)

  • E. Bridgeport A 10.35


Classification leaving Hartford

Block Sets Off At (Including Classifications) to:

  1. Bridgeport (Speed Witch) to 2/NE-1

  2. Bridgeport (Philadelphia Transfer) to 2/NE-1

  3. Bridgeport (West of Harrisburg) to 2/NE-1

  4. Bridgeport (Oak Point) to 2/BH-1 (see Note A)

Classification leaving New Britain, Plainville and Waterbury same as from Hartford.

Note A: Oak Point and Harlem River cars developing at New Britain and Ansonia will move to Cedar Hill in YN-1 and DN-1 for connection to 2/BH-1.

Closing Time for receipt LCL at Freight House:

  • Hartford: 3.30 pm

  • New Britain: 4.45 pm

  • Waterbury: 5.00 pm

Service Objective: ANE-1 and 2/NE-1 provide advertised service from Hartford and Waterbury to Philadelphia and points west of Harrisburg via PRR and from Bridgeport to all PRR points and from Cedar Hill to Bridgeport from Springfield connections. Should not be annulled without permission.


Except Saturday and Sunday


  • R-1 3000 tons from E. Bridgeport

  • R-1 2800 tons from Turkey Brook

  • R-1 1450 tons from Waterbury


  • E. Bridgeport L 1.30am (from GN-4 and extras)

  • Turkey Brook A 2.10

  • Turkey Brook L 2.30 (from OE-2 and NO-21)

  • Ansonia by 2.40 (does not stop)

  • Waterbury A 3.30

  • Waterbury L 4.00

  • New Britain A 5.15

  • New Britain L 5.30

  • Hartford A 6.00


Classification leaving E. Bridgeport

Block Sets Off At (Including Classifications) to:

  1. Turkey Brook (Derby Jct.)

  2. Turkey Brook (Maybrook empties) to NO-5 (see Note A)

  3. Waterbury (Waterbury) to HDX 1, 2, 3, 4

  4. New Britain (New Britain)

  5. Hartford (Hartford) to HDX 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Classification Leaving Waterbury

  1. New Britain (New Britain)

  2. Hartford (Hartford) to HDX 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Classification Leaving New Britain

      1. Hartford (Hartford) to HDX 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Note A: Maybrook routing empties from Bridgeport after EO-1 are handled on EA-2 to Turkey Brook as fill.

When overload for ND-2 at Cedar Hill is in prospect and EA-2 can relieve, NO-21 may carry fill of Waterbury cars from Cedar Hill to Turkey Brook.

When pusher can be saved by so doing, OA-4 and OA-6 should be reduced at Waterbury to single trains (L-1 engines - 2100 tons) and Hartford and New Britain cars held for EA-2.

Service Objective: Provides advertised service from Harlem River connections to Waterbury and Hartford. May be annulled if such cars handled via Cedar Hill for movement on ND-2 and 2?NS-2.

This looks like another Kent Cochrane photo. It appears to be eastbound on the Highland, which would probably make it EA-2. A short EA-2, and if this is 1947 or 1948 as I suspect it highlights how this train could be annulled and the cars moved on Maybrook freights or via Cedar Hill. At first glance I thought it was a work train, but the last three cars look like loads, and there isn't any work equipment.