Passenger Service

New Britain Passenger Timetables

New Britain Passenger Service

Passenger service on the Highland was primarily commuter traffic into Hartford. One, and for a short while, two, round trips between Boston and Waterbury ran daily. Passenger service on the Berlin Line was a shuttle from New Britain Station to Berlin Station to transfer to Springfield Line trains. This service was replaced by buses in 1935.

It's a great line for modeling, because the passenger trains are short. Most are a baggage car and two coaches. Train 131/136 from Boston includes a baggage and mail car, working mail along the way, and typically included a smoker (smoking car, or a coach with a smoking comparment) in the consist. Highland trains are not turned in Waterbury, only the locomotives. So on the eastbound trips the baggage car is on the rear of the train.

The majority of the trains run between Hartford and Waterbury, but 128/129 and 131/136 are between Boston and Waterbury, and 157/472 are between Hartford and Bridgeport.

Westbound trains carry odd numbers, and eastbound even. The trains highlighted in green above are the ones that run during operating sessions.

Trains 131/136 ended after the 1955 flood, and New Britain Station was torn down in 1956. Passenger service ended on the Highland in 1960.

In the late '40s, passenger trains on the Highland line were primarily standard, non-air-conditioned heavyweight coaches. Train 131/136 was the only train that was regularly assigned air-conditioned cars until the 1949 conversion of parlors to 600-series coaches.

Starting in 1950 all trains had been upgraded due to the delivery of the stainless steel cars. With fewer Pullman-Bradley lightweights on through trains, combined with the parlors converted to coaches, the New Haven had started to eliminate most of the non-air-conditioned cars. Those that remained were used in Boston commuter service.

Consist Books

Consist booklets were typically issued twice a year, at the same time timetables were. Until 1950, only air-conditioned equipment was noted, and assignments listed were for through trains only. As a result, only 131/136 has any consist information in these books. Otherwise photos have been the best source of identifying what equipment was used on Highland line passenger trains.

he consist books and other documentation use abbreviations for the cars. The ones relevant to the cars running on the Highland Line are:

Types of Coaches

CvP - Converted Parlor

De - De Luxe

L - Lounge Seats

SL - Streamline

SLr - Streamline with reclining seats

St - Standard

Smokers aren't identified by a separate abbreviation but are noted in the consist books themselves and can often be identified in photos. A smoker is a car that has a separate compartment, or the entire car, designated for smoking. They were usually upholstered in Pantasote, an imitation leather, rather than a mohair plush, and often had improved ventilation.

Passenger Equipment and Assignments


The backbone of the branchline fleet in 1947 were heavyweight cars. As new stainless-steel cars were delivered, the heavyweights were replaced by newer lightweight cars.

I presented a clinic on the Heavyweight Coaches, the Powerpoint file is available here and diagrams are available here.

Head-End Cars

On the railroad, head-end cars are non-passenger carrying cars typically at the front (head-end) of the train, just behind the locomotives. These include baggage cars, mail cars that were operated by postal clerks, and storage mail and express traffic which could be carried in baggage cars or box cars equipped with steam lines for passenger service.

The Highland Line trains weren't turned at Waterbury, only the locomotives were. As a result, the head-end cars were at the front of the train westbound, and at the rear of the train eastbound.

2790-2794: 60' Steel Baggage and Mail

15' Apartment car 2792 in Pittsfield, 1937.

Only train 131/136 Boston to Waterbury has a working postal car, with a 15' apartment (mail compartment). It's easy to model with the kit from Bethlehem Car Works. I'm in the process of building one: Part I.

3800-3946: Steel Underframe Baggage Car

This is the most common baggage car on the Highland, and one is assigned to every passenger train until replaced by RDCs. It's available from Bethlehem Car Works, although I may decide to scratchbuild these since they would be very easy to do.

5300-5404: 60' Steel Baggage

Builders' photo of 5317.

Note the clerestory windows and Automatic ventilators. The windows would be removed, and Ward ventilators installed by my era.

A storage mail car is spotted each day at New Britain Station and is picked up on train No. 472 for Hartford each evening. A steel car is often used for that purpose. These were once available from Funaro & Camerlengo through NHRHTA, but are currently out-of-production.

5407: 60' Steel Baggage Car

A 60' baggage car purchased second-hand in 1942. Yes, I have a photo of this car in New Britain.

5500-5569 70' Steel Baggage Car

Although Train No. 427 was assigned 60' of storage mail space, occasionally a longer car might be used. In the Jim Karl photos of DEY-4 0802 a 70' car is in the yard, presumably waiting to be spotted later in the week. It differs slightly from the Funaro & Camerlengo model, with the Ward vents in different locations.

Standard Coaches

Standard Coach No. 7825 from 7800-7950 group.

Spotting features: 7 Ward vents, both end windows widely spaced.

6-wheel trucks, 7921-7948 had 4-wheel trucks.

Standard Coach No. 7981 from 7951-8005 group

Spotting features: 7 Ward vents, left end window is widely spaced.

Standard Coach No. 8022 from 8006-8085 group.

Spotting features: 10 Ward Vents.

The standard coaches were built 1913-1918, and many rebuilt from 1933-4, visibly changing the exterior appearance. The rebuilt coaches received ice-activated air conditioning and were assigned to service out of Boston. While this could have included 131/136 to Waterbury via New Britain, I have no evidence that this train used this equipment during my era.

Others were reconditioned in 1938, upgrading the interior but without extensive external work.

Most of the Highland trains during the steam-hauled era utilized standard, non-air-conditioned coaches. Note that the plans that circulate for these cars differentiate them based on different number groups. I've grouped them based on their external appearance. Cars 7984-8005 were reconditioned in 1938 and have the upgraded interior that 8006-8085 received. But they were built earlier than that group and have 7 Ward vents instead of 10.

  • 7800-7950 - Standard Coach

  • 7951-8005 - Standard Coach (7984-8005 Reconditioned)

  • 8006-8085 - Standard Reconditioned Coach

No. 8080 Ex-Besler Steel Coach

I-1 No. 1001 with Ex-Besler coach and on eastbound passenger train (probably 446). Kent Cochrane, July 7, 1947.

The other coach is from the 7800-7950 series.

Coach 8080 was originally part of the group 8036-8085 built in 1918. In 1935 it was converted to the trailer coach for the Besler Steam Train, a 2-car streamlined train. The most noticeable alteration was the replacement of the clerestory roof with a rounded roof. In 1943 it was converted back to coach 8080 but retained its unique appearance. It was photographed on trains 131/136 in addition to the commuter train pictured above.

De Luxe Coaches

De Luxe Smoker No. 6813

The De Luxe Coaches were built in 1928 and upgraded with air-conditioning c1933. A De Luxe smoker was assigned to Train 131/136 through 1949.

Smokers 6824-6843 were converted from De Luxe Coaches 8100-8163 and look identical. They have a globe vent at both ends of the clerestory so they can be differentiated from the 6900-6823 smokers.

  • 6800-6823 - De Luxe Smoker

  • 6824-6843 - De Luxe Smoker

  • 8100-8163 - De Luxe Coach

I've helped produce kits of these cars using 3D printed sides and roof on a Branchline core from Bethlehem Car Works.

Converted Parlor Coaches

These paired-window coaches were rebuilt from 2000-series parlor cars specifically for commuter service on several lines, including the Highland. All of the cars had 88 seats, except 601, 607, 609-11 which had 84 seats.

  • 600-620 - Converted Parlor Coach

These were converted from 10 different original Pullman plans, the external appearance varies as a result. In the Shoreliner article there are two plans shown.

Within this group of 21 cars are four different plans. Eight of them (600, 2-6, 8, 12) use sketch 9400, seven (613-18, 20) use sketch 9401. Five of the remaining cars (601, 7, 9-11) are the same plan as 610, formerly Philinda, which still exists in rather poor condition at the Railroad Museum of New England (as does 603, ex-Forest Hills, plan 9400). One car, 619, is originally of the Pullman plan 3416 which is what the Walthers 28-1 parlor car model is based on.

Note the window spacing on sketch 9401 in the article does not match that in the photographs.

I have several posts on how I'm kitbashing these cars using the Walthers 28-1 Parlor Car as a base: Part I, Part II, Part III so far.

Business Cars

On the rear cover of Shoreliner magazine (Vol 30, No. 2) is a picture of Business Car #1 (The Yankee) taken October 30, 1954 in Plainville. In one of the Arcadia Books is another picture of Business Car #1 at New Britain Station. At some point I may build a model of this car for an inspection or special train.


Being short commuter trains, a diner wasn't assigned to any Highland line train. But they were used on some special trains, and the car is available from Bethlehem Car Works.

Pullman-Bradley Lightweights

The New Haven Railroad started taking delivery of new streamlined lightweight passenger cars. These were built by Pullman Standard at their Osgood-Bradley plant with a low-profile riveted construction and turtle roofs giving them a smooth, streamlined profile.

These were the last passenger cars added to the roster until after World War II and the delivery of the stainless steel streamlined passenger cars.

The coaches were delivered in three configurations, with the following designations in the consist books:

SL - Streamline, mechanical AC

Builders' photo of the 84-seat, 10-window coaches.

  • 84-seat coaches with 10 windows

  • 8200-8249, 8250-8269

Builders' photos of the 92-seat 11-window coaches.

      • 92-seat coaches with 11 windows

      • 8270-8299, 8300-8349, 8350-8369

Until the NH started posting information regarding the non-air-conditioned cars in 1950, they don't identify whether the 10-window or 11-window cars are assigned.

SLrL - Streamline, reclining seats, mechanical AC, lounge seats

      • 8500-8529

Smoking Lounges

In 1940 four cars had smoking lounges installed; starting in 1947, several more were added:

SLL - Streamline, mechanical AC, lounge

  • by 9-1949 - 8250, 8256, 8258, 8262, 8265

SLrL - Streamline, reclining seats, mechanical AC, lounge

  • 1940 - 8500-8503

  • by 4-1948 - 8510-8516, 8519-8529

  • by 9-1949 - 8504-8509, 8517

  • by 4-1950 - 8518

Air Conditioning Hatches

Cars 8350-8369 and 8500-8529 have a large hatch to access the air-conditioner on the roof.


When delivered, the cars had skirting along the entire side of the car. A notation for August 5, 1947 indicates the skirting above the trucks was removed. The rest of the skirting was eventually removed, but in 1957, well after the era I model.

Paint Schemes

The cars were delivered in No. 212 Hunter Green with Silver Gray lettering with "New Haven" on the car side under the windows. The roof was also Hunter Green, but with alphaltum paint. The texture combined with soot make the roofs look black. Cars were repainted as needed during their regular shop rotations, so not every car wore every scheme. Shoreliner 32.2 has a photo of 8290 still wearing its original Hunter Green scheme in 1958 and no skirting.

About 1947, as cars were shopped and repainted, they retained the same color scheme but with a black roof and "New Haven" now in the letterboard above the windows.

In May 1950, the standard color was changed from Hunter Green to No. 13 Pullman Green. The window frames were also repainted in Pullman Green, making it possible to identify whether a car is in Hunter or Pullman green in black & white photos from this era.

Company records show a change to No. 401 Exterior Green in May of 1954. The rest of the scheme remained as before.

Modeling the Lightweight Coaches

The 10-window cars, including the smokers, are easy since the Rapido models are ready to go. They were produced with full and partial skirts in all three of the paint schemes I'll need to cover my eras.

The 11-window coaches aren't so easy. NJ Custom Brass imported brass models years ago. They are decent, but very basic in terms of details, with no window glazing and nor interiors. The other common model is the E&B Valley plastic one. Unfortunately, they also don't really hold up next to the quality of the Rapido cars.

I've experimented with using the Custom Brass car sides on a Rapido chassis, but as Bill pointed out, I'll need to correct the roof too. Some options may be available in the future.

Passenger Train Consists

128/129 Boston-Waterbury

  • 1950: Comet

This assignment only lasted about a year. An April 1, 1951 memo states: "COMET to be assigned to Boston-Providence local service, effective with new timetable of 29 April 1951, replacing two 0700s. Trains 128/129 will be reassigned an 0500 loco and two 8500 coaches."

  • 1951: Coach (SLrL), Coach (SLrL)

It would be reassigned an RDC-1 in 1952 when they arrived but was only running from Boston to Hartford.

131/136 Boston-Waterbury

  • 1946-1949: Apt., Exp., Coach (SL), Smoker (De)

  • 1950-1951: Apt., Exp., Coach (SLrL)

  • 1952: Apt., Coach (SLrL)

  • 1953: RDC-1 No. 33, RDC-3 No. 128

As noted, the 10-window and 11-window coaches are both designated as "SL" in the consist books and there isn't any way to determine which types were assigned to a specific train until the 1950 consist book. Either would be appropriate for 131/136. There are also photos of the Ex-Besler coach on 131/136.

The 1950 consist books also started listing assignment of non-air-conditioned coaches. Here are the basic consistss for Highland Line trains. These would be used for trains 157, 421, 444, 446, 463, 472, etc. Note that the number of coaches isn't noted, but it appears to have generally been two, except for 131/136 which had specific assignments as already noted.

1946-1949 Consists

All heavyweights.

  • 5300-5404 S.U. Baggage, 7800-7950 Standard Coach and 7951-8005 Standard Coach

  • 5300-5404 S.U. Baggage, 7951-8005 Standard Coach and 7951-8005 Standard Coach

  • 5300-5404 S.U. Baggage, 8080 Ex-Besler Coach and 7951-8005 Standard Coach

1948 Photos, neither have a baggage and mail so aren't 131/136:

  • 5300-5404 S.U. Baggage, 6800-6823 De Luxe Smoker, 8270- Coach (SL)

  • 5300-5404 S.U. Baggage, 6824-6843 De Luxe Smoker or 8100-8163 De Luxe Coach, 7951-8005 Standard Coach (x3)

1950 Consists

Although assignments show only lightweight cars, there is evidence that heavyweights were also used.

    • 5300-5404 S.U. Baggage, 8270- Coach (SL)

1951-2 Consists

    • 5300-5404 S.U. Baggage, 600-620 Coach (CvP), 8270- Coach (SL)

In late '52, early 1952 all Highland passenger train equipment started to be replaced with RDCs as they were delivered.

1953 Consists

  • 131/136 - RDC-1 No. 33 and RDC-3 No. 128

  • 150/157 - RDC-2 No. 121 and RDC-3 No. 130

  • 156/443/460/461 - RDC-1 No. 25

  • 446 - RDC-1 No. 20 and RDC-1 No. 21

  • 447 - RDC-1 No. 20

  • 463 - RDC-1 No. 21 and RDC-1 No. 25


The car numbers are selected based on NH records of cars still in service through 1953.

  • 602, 604, 610, 619 - Converted Parlor Coaches

  • 2792 - 15' Apartment

  • 3802, 3842, 3870, 3941 - 60' S.U. Baggage

  • 5340 - 60' Steel Baggage

  • 5407 - 60' Steel Baggage

  • 55xx - 70' Steel Baggage

  • 6813 - De Luxe Smoker

  • 7872, 7931 - Standard Coach

  • 7966, 7987, 8008 - Standard Coach

  • 8028 - Standard Coach

  • 8080 - Ex-Besler Coach

  • 8169 - De luxe Coach

  • 8229 - Lightweight Coach, Pullman Green

  • 82xx, 8249 - Lightweight Coach, Hunter Green, NH under windows

  • 8501, 8505, 8511 - Lightweight Smoker, Hunter Green

  • 8507, 8513 - Lightweight Smoker, Pullman Green