Providence and Worcester Railroad

The Providence and Worcester Railroad (P&W) (reporting mark PW) is a Class II railroad operating 612 miles (985 km) of tracks in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, as well as New York via trackage rights. The company was founded in 1844 to build a railroad between Providence, Rhode Island, and Worcester, Massachusetts, and ran its first trains in 1847. A successful railroad, the P&W subsequently expanded with a branch to East Providence, Rhode Island, and for a time leased two small Massachusetts railroads. Originally operating on a single track, its busy mainline was double-tracked beginning in 1853, following a fatal collision that year in Valley Falls, Rhode Island.

Providence and Worcester Railroad
The logo of the Providence and Worcester Railroad. In addition to showing the railroad's name, a map of Massachusetts and Rhode Island is at the center of the logo, with stars indicating the locations of Providence and Worcester, and the year "1844", when the company was originally formed.
A diesel locomotive pulling a passenger train down a railroad track, heading towards the observer. The locomotive has P&W's logo on its nose, and is numbered 4006. A pile of concrete railroad ties lies adjacent to the track.
Providence and Worcester GE B40-8W leading a passenger excursion for railfans at Plainfield, Connecticut in 2012
Parent companyGenesee & Wyoming
Headquarters381 Southbridge Street, Worcester, Massachusetts
Reporting markPW, PWRZ
LocaleConnecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island; New York City and Long Island via trackage rights
Dates of operation1847
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length612 miles (985 km) (including trackage rights)
WebsiteOfficial website
Route map

The P&W operated independently until 1888, when the New York, Providence and Boston Railroad (NYP&B) leased it; the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad obtained the lease in 1892 when it purchased the NYP&B. The P&W continued to exist as a company, as special rules protecting minority shareholders made it prohibitively expensive for the New Haven to outright purchase the company. The New Haven continued to lease the Providence and Worcester for 76 years, until the former was merged into Penn Central (PC) at the end of 1968. Penn Central demanded the shareholder rules keeping P&W alive be rewritten, and also threatened to abandon the company's tracks. In response, a group of P&W shareholders launched a fight with PC, convincing the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to cancel the lease and let the P&W exit the New Haven's merger and go free. Against expectations, the ICC agreed, and following court battles P&W prevailed and began operating independently again after 85 years. Upon regaining its independence, the railroad expanded through purchasing a number of railroad lines from the Boston and Maine Railroad and PC successor Conrail in the 1970s and 1980s. The company turned a profit operating lines bigger companies lost money on, and invested heavily in improving its infrastructure. P&W also absorbed a number of shortline railroads in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Entering the 1990s, P&W had expanded to several hundred miles of track. However, a number of the company's largest customers shut down or ended rail service during this decade, and the Providence and Worcester responded by pivoting to expanding interchange with other railroads. P&W also signed an agreement to run unit trains of crushed stone from Connecticut quarries to Queens, New York over the Northeast Corridor. In 2016, the Providence and Worcester was purchased by railroad holding company Genesee & Wyoming, without any significant changes to operations.

P&W is headquartered in Worcester, and maintains significant facilities there, in Valley Falls, in Plainfield, Connecticut, and in New Haven, Connecticut. It operates a variety of GE and EMD diesel locomotives to power its trains. P&W serves major ports in New Haven, Providence, and Davisville, Rhode Island (the latter via a connection to switching and terminal railroad Seaview Transportation Company). In addition to the lines it directly owns and operates, P&W freight trains share tracks with Amtrak, Metro-North Railroad, and MBTA Commuter Rail passenger trains on the Northeast Corridor and two Metro-North branches in Connecticut. Key commodities carried by P&W include lumber, paper, chemicals, steel, construction materials and debris, crushed stone, automobiles, and plastics. While the company is primarily a freight railroad, since the 1980s it has occasionally operated passenger excursions, using refurbished passenger cars purchased from Amtrak.

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Providence and Worcester Railroad, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.