Yes, Amtrak’s Acela Should Stop at Bridgeport — But Physically, It Cannot
Bridgeport’s history and the shape of the harbor conspire against the Acela. Our best hope for Acela service is Barnum Station.
Here is an exchange in the Connecticut Post:
Letter by Bob Halstead headlined “Bring Acela to Bridgeport,” published February 7, 2017.
Currently the Acela stops only at New Haven and Stamford. Bridgeport is Connecticut’s largest city and warrants an Acela stop.
Bridgeport is a population center and it is a disservice that residents have to travel to either New Haven or Stamford to take the high-speed train to Boston or Washington.
An Acela stop would also spur economic development in Bridgeport
I have already been to three public hearings on the subject, asked the same question about the Acela and still have not got any answers.
At the last meeting it seemed most of the 50 neighbors in attendance had not ever heard of what the Acela is and the councilwoman who is chair of the Economic Development Committee, who attended this public hearing about Transit Oriented Development, insisted that the Acela does indeed stop in Bridgeport already.
Bridgeport leadership needs to be better informed and I ask the Connecticut Post to cover this subject.
The writer is a former long-time Bridgeport city council member
The problem isn’t responding to the market. It’s overcoming hydrology and the legacy of the shipping wharves on the Pequonnock River!
When the railroad arrived, it was located at ground level, bisecting the entrances to the wharves jutting into the river. Thus, cargo could be transferred from the ships to the railroad. This was an early form of intermodal transportation. I think it contributed to the industrial innovation economy of Bridgeport.
Because of the harborfront’s north-south orientation along the Pequonnock, the railroad followed the same orientation. So the westbound rail to New York heads south out of Bridgeport and the eastbound rail to New Haven exits to the north (past the site of the old station) before sweeping east over the river.
Result: an “S” curve. A huge engineering problem for the Acela. Insurmountable, in fact.
The Acela equipment cannot come to a stop at Bridgeport. If it did, it could not start and acquire the momentum necessary to make it through the north or south curves just past each end of the Bridgeport Station platforms. Hence, an Acela train that stopped at Bridgeport would be trapped inside the S-curve.
Acela trains enter the S-curve and coast through them. If you listen and watch the Acela trains as they pass Bridgeport Station, you can sense they are coasting.
This is why the Barnum Station, if constructed, could bring Acela service to Bridgeport. I’m sure that Amtrak riders from West[port to Milford, and up to Monroe, Newtown, and the Naugatuck Valley to Waterbury, would gladly come to Barnum Station to catch an Acela to Washington or Boston, or points between. We just need a station on a straightaway with enough platforms to handle simultaneous Amtrak and Metro-North boardings. This is the design contemplated for Barnum.