Save Cornwells Heights


Wednesday, October 26, 2005


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The End of the Beginning


The New Amtrak Commuting Schedule Starts Monday, October 31st


Starting Monday, there will no longer be trains to New York City from Cornwells Heights at 6:55 and 8:11 in the morning.  The new times will be 6:15 and 7:43.  Our new trains will arrive in New York an average of 20 minutes faster than our old trains.


From Cornwells Heights to New York City


The 6:30 train returning to Cornwells Heights from New York City will remain on the schedule.  The 3:40, 5:30, 6:09, and 11:59 trains currently stopping at Cornwells Heights will no longer do so.  A 5:39 train has been added, though, and will arrive earlier than the 5:30 used to.  Our new pair of return trains will arrive at Cornwells Heights an average of 10 minutes faster than the old 5:30-6:09-6:30 set.


From New York City to Cornwells Heights


All trains stop at Newark – 19 minutes before New York inbound, 17 minutes after New York outbound.  Direct trains 180 and 193 skip Trenton.  None stop at Princeton Junction.  Train #630 is expected to change its run to approximately a 6:30-leaving-to-7:32-arrival schedule after track work on the Harrisburg line is completed some unknown number of months down the line.  Overall, commuting to and from New York City should require about 30 fewer minutes of train time per day on the new schedule.


Stay Tuned To For Future Station News


Though the Cornwells Heights station remains open for Amtrak commuting, the future of commuting from this station remains murky.  We will soon have a much more expensive monthly ticket price, $870, than Trenton’s New Jersey Transit price of $320.  That may drive former and future Amtrak riders to either take their cars and themselves up to Trenton or take the SEPTA/NJT combo package at a cost of about an extra hour and a half or more of commute time per day.  Amtrak is in some of the worst funding trouble in its entire 30-some-year life and is, itself, not a very stable company.  The Northeast Corridor may be split off, initially as an Amtrak subsidiary, and it is not clear what that might mean for the station.  An alternative, less expensive vendor of rail commuting could even show up on the same tracks in a few years.


I intend to keep the website going with periodic updates because we’re not entirely out of the woods yet.  I’ll try to keep current schedules, commuting and general station usage tips, and relevant news about Amtrak health, ticket costs, and even travel alternatives on the site.  I am hoping, with the help of local politicians, to get a station name change put through so that the name “Bensalem” is associated with the station, possibly in combination with the name “Bucks.”  Cornwells Heights was a postal address until 1979 when it essentially vanished and became part of Bensalem’s postal purview.  Much of the station’s low usage rate may be traced to its these-days-mysterious name which can’t be found on maps.  I’ve become rather deeply invested in the station’s future success, and expect to keep working to promote it indefinitely, in the hope that its usage will grow to the point that they wouldn’t dare try to throw us off the Northeast Corridor again.


I’m always appreciative of e-mail.  Thoughts on changing the name now are particularly welcome.


– Rick


What If I Want To Come Home Early Or Late?


Alternative return trains for monthly pass holders are believed (subject to arcane Amtrak restriction changes) to include the following:


From New York City to Trenton (with SPETA Connection)




The first three “early” trains make SEPTA connections, according to the current online schedule, with 4, 8, and 33 minutes to change trains respectively, giving scheduled arrivals at Cornwells Heights at 4:58, 5:25, and 6:13.  The first two of these connections appear to be tenuous, so an extra 28 to 48 minutes could occur there on connection miss.


Among the evening trains, the first two give 14 and 10 minutes to change trains respectively, arriving at Cornwells Heights at 8:58 and 9:58.  The last two trains both connect with only the last SEPTA train out of Trenton at 12:10, arriving at Cornwells Heights at 12:28.  The 11:00 train gives 14 minutes to make the connection, and could end up missing it at times.  The 10:05 gives a 72-minute wait at Trenton, but pretty much guarantees you won’t have to take a cab home.



Goodbye, Clockers.  Best Wishes, Old Friends.


With the transfer of Amtrak’s Clocker service to New Jersey Transit, Amtrak will nearly cease originating trains out of Philadelphia.  Conductors, many our friends and acquaintances for years, will be asked to report to work in other cities like Washington and New York, even though many have homes in Philadelphia and Bucks County.  Engineers, too.  Other workers at Philadelphia’s Amtrak rail yards, the men and women who have serviced our trains and kept them running well all these years, will likely be less fortunate and will simply be laid off, many having served Amtrak for nearly thirty years.  Philadelphia rail service will likely show the effects of these cutbacks in the next few months as winter comes.


Let’s hope we see some familiar faces again on the new trains we will be riding.  And please take a moment to remember those we never really knew who kept us on the rails on good days and on bad.  They all have deserved to see the railroad come to better than this.


Thanks, best wishes, and goodbye, old friends.


– Rick