Princeton Branch

Princeton Branch

Infobox rail line
name = rail color box|system=NJT|line=Princeton

image_width = 250px
caption = The Dinky at njt-sta|Princeton Junction.
type = Commuter rail line
system = New Jersey Transit
status =
locale = New Jersey
start = njt-sta|Princeton Junction
end = njt-sta|Princeton
stations = 2
routes =
ridership =
open =
close =
owner = New Jersey Transit
operator = New Jersey Transit
character =
stock = Arrow III
linelength =
tracklength = 4.5 km (2.8 mi)
notrack =
gauge = RailGauge|sg
el =
speed =
elevation =

infobox rdt|Princeton branch map
The Princeton Branch is a commuter rail line and service owned and operated by New Jersey Transit in the U.S. state of New Jersey. The line is a short branch of the Northeast Corridor Line, running from njt-sta|Princeton Junction northwest to njt-sta|Princeton with no intermediate stops. Also known as the Dinky Line, or Princeton Junction and Back (PJ&B),Fact|date=December 2007 the branch is served by special shuttle trains. ("Dinky" is a term for a small locomotive. The term is on face anachronistic, because the line is today served by a single Budd Company Arrow III electric coach car, although the Federal Railroad Administration considers any power car to be a locomotive.) NJ Transit has also considered using diesel multiple unit coaches on the line. The Princeton Branch provides rail service directly to the Princeton University campus from Princeton Junction, where New Jersey Transit and Amtrak trains that go to Newark, New York City, and Philadelphia can be boarded. Peak period trains leave Princeton on weekdays between 5:59 am and 8:14 am, approximately, and leave Princeton Junction on weekdays between 5:03 pm and 8:10 pm, approximately (some trains handle both peak and off-peak commuters to and from the Northeast Corridor) [] . There are 41 departures in each direction daily.


When the Camden and Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company opened its original Trenton-New Brunswick line in 1839, the line was located along the east bank of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, about one mile (2 km) from downtown Princeton. [PDFlink| [ PRR Chronology, 1839] |82.7 KiB , June 2004 Edition] The new alignment (now the Northeast Corridor Line) opened in 1863, [PDFlink| [ PRR Chronology, 1863] |140 KiB , June 2004 Edition] but some passenger trains continued to use the old line until the Princeton Branch opened on May 29, 1865, using a Grice & Long steam dummy for passenger service. [PDFlink| [ PRR Chronology, 1865] |110 KiB , June 2004 Edition]

The Pennsylvania Railroad leased and began to operate the C&A, including the Princeton Branch, in 1871. [PDFlink| [ PRR Chronology, 1871] |72.9 KiB , January 2005 Edition] Penn Central Transportation took over operations in 1968, and, when Conrail was formed in 1976, the line was transferred to the New Jersey Department of Transportation. [1975 Conrail Final System Plan]

2007 Plans for the Branch

Princeton University plans a campus expansion at the site of the branch's terminal station, [ [ Princeton University April 13, 2006 news release: "Renzo Piano selected to design University Place/Alexander Street neighborhood"] ] that will move the station almost 500 feet south of its current location. [cite news |first=Matthew |last=Hersh |title=PU Plans Still Relocate Dinky Station |url= |work=Town Topics |location=Princeton NJ |date=May 23, 2007 |accessdate=2007-12-12] Rail advocates fear that access to the new station would be less convenient, resulting in decreased ridership that would "threaten the train's existence." [ [ National Association of Railroad Passengers 6/21/07 Blog entry: "More on the Dinky"] ]

The Great Dinky Robbery

The Great Dinky Robbery was a prank perpetrated by four Princeton University students on Friday, May 3 1963. [cite news |first=J. D. |last=Reed |title=The Little Engine That Can |url= |work=New York Times |date=March 31, 2002 |accessdate=2007-12-12 ] The Dinky referred to is the Princeton Branch service operated at the time by the Pennsylvania Railroad, usually a one-car train. At the time, Princeton was an all-male school, so the Dinky was the primary means of transportation for women coming to the campus to meet their dates.

In the "Robbery", four students on horseback ambushed the train as it was arriving in the Princeton Junction station. A convertible was parked across the track forcing the Dinky to come to an abrupt halt. At that point, the ersatz cowboys rode up to the Dinky, and, led by George Bunn '63 who was armed with a pistol loaded with blanks, boarded and seized four girls selected on the spot. The riders and their newly-found dates rode off on the horses, the convertible was moved off the tracks, and the Dinky arrived safely, albeit a few minutes late. Although the University administrators were aware of the event and knew who was involved, they took no official action against them.

Bunn, widely regarded as the ringleader of the Robbery, was rather well-known around campus as a prankster. A member of the Princeton eating club Cap and Gown, he had once driven a bulldozer into neighboring Cottage Club, and it has been said that he kept a pet ocelot in his room. Not much is known about the other students involved in the robbery, but Sam Perry '63 and John Williams '63, both also of Cap and Gown, were thought to have been involved, and Walt Goodridge '64 allegedly did much of the logistical work for the prank. At least one other student must have been involved, as moving the car on and off the tracks would have required a fifth helper in addition to the four riders. Many members of the Classes of '63 and '64 have claimed to have been one of the bandits, but the names listed above are thought to be the "real" riders.

On arriving back on campus, Bunn rode his horse onto the porch of Colonial Club, while the rest apparently rode down to Cap and Gown to listen to Bo Diddley whom Cap and Charter Club had booked for the two nights of Houseparties.

Although no actual robbery was committed (the only stolen "commodity" being the four women), the hold-up of the train was probably the last such event in America. Before 1960, the last train robbery in America took place in Oregon in 1923.

tation listing

*The direction from Nassau to KS is northward.
*Distance from Nassau.
*(F) indicates flag stop
*I indicates interlocking
*IS indicates interlocking station (tower)
*BS indicates block station
*TO indicates train order office
*BLS indicates block limit station
*R- indicates remote controlled
*Source:Penn Central Transportation Company Employee Timetable #5 dated May 17, 1970



*David McIlroy, [ Daily Princetonian article] , 2004. Accessed 3/20/2006.
*Editorial [] Princeton Alumni Weekly (April 7, 2004)
*Capi Lynn, [ 1923 botched train holdup nears anniversary] , Statesman Journal, 2003. Accessed 3/21/2006.
*Bleary, H. [ The Great Dinky Robbery] Princeton Alumni Weekly (Dec. 20, 2000)
*Edwards, Selden. [ The great train robbery] Princeton Alumni Weekly (April 7, 2004)

External links

* [ Daily Princetonian article on DMU use on the Princeton Branch]

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