Railroads & Locomotives Railroad Profiles Short Lines New England Central Railroad profile

New England Central Railroad profile

By Lucas Iverson | January 19, 2023

| Last updated on January 30, 2023

The New England Central Railroad is a Class III short line railroad operating in the New England area.

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New England Central Railroad logoNew England Central Railroad summary

The New England Central Railroad (NECR) is a Class III short line railroad that operates in New England. It’s owned by Genesee and Wyoming Incorporated. With 384 miles of former Central Vermont Railway standard-gauge track, the railroad stretches north from New London, Connecticut, to the Canadian border at East Alburgh, Vermont.


The New England Central Railroad was formed in 1995 by RailTex, following the sale of the ex-Central Vermont’s Palmer Subdivision from the Canadian National Railway. Although offering a fresh start, the railroad experienced no fewer than four changes in ownership over the years. The most recent being at the hands of present owner, Genesee & Wyoming in 2019.


Operations on the New England Central Railroad are straightforward, yet the line encompasses all the dynamics of larger railroads. Palmer, Mass., remains the most import traffic node on the south line. It serves local customers with Palmer Industrial Park being the busiest, distributing lumber products, newsprint, and carbon dioxide gas. To the south is the hub in Willimantic, Conn., which serves as a focal point for traffic in the state. This includes timber and grain distributors, metals for local factories, and distributions from the New London pier. The north section of the line works with a variety of customers based out of the area in St. Albans, Vt. Most notably hauling woodchips from East Swanton to Burlington, Vt., to feed the Burlington Electric Generating Station. Other assignments include serving a seed factory at Milton, Vt., and shipping seasonal grain, salt, and fertilizer. The expansion of liquefied petroleum gas customers around White River Junction, Vt., has opened the door for the New England Central to access aggregate, fertilizer, and timber.

Orange diesel locomotive pulling long, blue freight train
New England Central SD40-2 No. 3405 leads a welded rail train through Willimantic, Conn., on May 3, 2018. Scott A. Hartley

The railroad began operations with a dozen former, Illinois Central EMD GP38s diesel locomotives. As of early 2020, only five of the original 12 were still wearing the railroad’s blue and yellow colors while working regularly on the south section of the line. Today, EMD GP40-2s and SD40M-2s provides most of the motive power wearing the colors of the Genesee & Wyoming.

The New England Central connects with every major east-west transportation corridor, while offering interchanges with four Class I railroads and most of New England’s largest regionals and several short lines. From the south in New London, Conn., connecting with the Providence & Worcester Railroad, to the north in East Alburgh, Vt., with Canadian National. The NECR is among a handful of shortline railroads to host a daily Amtrak passenger train. The Vermonter joins the railroad at East Northfield at Massachusetts-Vermont border with trackage rights on the north section of the route.

Read more about the New England Central Railroad in Trains’ June 2020 issue.

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