Princeton Branch is a commuter rail line and service owned and
New Jersey Transit
New Jersey Transit (NJT) in the
U.S. state of New Jersey.
The line is a short branch of the
Northeast Corridor Line, running
from Princeton Junction northwest to Princeton with no intermediate
stops. Also known as the Dinky, or the Princeton Junction and Back
(PJ&B), the branch is served by special shuttle trains. Now
running 2.7 mi (4.3 km) along a single track, it is the
shortest scheduled commuter rail line in the United States. The
run takes approximately 5 minutes in each direction.
At the initiative of Princeton University, the line was shortened by
460 ft (140 m) in order to construct a new University Arts
Center. A new station opened on November 17, 2014.
2.1 Operational milestones
2.2 University highlights
2.3 Princeton station relocation and controversy
3 Proposed Transitway
6 External links
Princeton Branch provides rail service directly to the Princeton
University campus from Princeton Junction, where
New Jersey Transit
Northeast Corridor rail service, heading northeast
New York City
New York City and Boston, and southwest to Trenton,
Philadelphia and Washington. As of 2016, the branch schedule includes
41 round trips each weekday. The line is served by a two-car set of
Budd Arrow III self-propelled electric coach cars.
Penn Central "Dinky" at Princeton Junction in 1971
The former Penns Neck station site
When the Camden and Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company
(C&A) opened its original Trenton–New Brunswick line in 1839,
completing the first rail connection between Philadelphia and New York
Harbor, the line was located along the east bank of the newly
completed Delaware and Raritan Canal, about one mile (2 km) from
downtown Princeton. A new alignment (now the
Northeast Corridor Line)
opened on November 23, 1863, but some passenger trains continued to
use the old line until the
Princeton Branch opened on May 29, 1865, at
the end of the American Civil War. The branch's first train used a
Grice & Long wood-burning steam dummy for passenger service, and
took about 20 minutes each way. The
Pennsylvania Railroad leased and
began to operate the C&A, including the Princeton Branch, in 1871.
The branch was re-aligned and double-tracked in 1905 to handle popular
college football weekends, upgraded from coal to a gasoline-electric
train in 1933, fully electrified in 1936, and single-tracked again in
Penn Central Transportation took over operations in 1968, and
discontinued the little-used Penns Neck station in 1971. When
Conrail was formed in 1976, the Final System Plan called for the
transfer of the
Princeton Branch to
Conrail and then to the New Jersey
Department of Transportation, but the transfer to NJDOT was not made
The Princeton train, locally called the "Dinky" or the "PJ&B"
(for "Princeton Junction and Back"), is a unique symbol of
Princeton University that has grown over time to emblemize the
University. It is mentioned in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "This Side of
Paradise", featured in the TV program "Family Ties" when young Alex
Keaton goes for his on-campus interview, and it is also in the 1934
Bing Crosby movie "She Loves Me Not". The theme of Princeton and the
train is repeated in the University's own traditional homecoming song
"Going Back to Nassau Hall" by Kenneth S. Clark (1905). In it, the
lyric "We'll clear the track as we go back" refers to the Princeton
Branch track leading to the campus.
The Great Dinky Robbery was an incident on May 3, 1963, in which four
men boarded the Dinky and abducted four passengers. Princeton was not
yet co-educational, and weekend dates from women's colleges usually
arrived by train. On a Friday evening, four Princeton University
students, riding horses in Western attire, ambushed the train as it
was arriving at Princeton station. A convertible was parked across the
track, forcing the Dinky to come to an abrupt halt. The men, including
George R. Bunn Jr. of the Bunn coffee maker family, who was armed with
a pistol loaded with blanks, boarded the train and persuaded four
female passengers to leave with them. The Dinky later resumed its trip
and arrived at Princeton station. Although the University
administrators were aware of the event and may have known who was
involved, they took no official action.
Princeton station relocation and controversy
The new Princeton station
Princeton (NJT station)
Princeton (NJT station) § Relocation controversy
Princeton University announced its intention to construct a
new arts center, calling for the replacement of the 1918 Princeton
station house, the shortening of the trackage right-of-way, and the
creation of a new terminus 460 ft (140 m) to the
south. Rail advocates opposed the relocation, fearing
that access to the new station would be less convenient, resulting in
decreased ridership that could "threaten the train's existence."
The proposal prompted protest from residents, students, faculty and
alumni, and led to the creation of the organization Save the Dinky and
a lengthy series of legal challenges. In October 2010, the
Princeton Regional Planning Board passed a resolution supporting the
continuation of train service. The new Princeton station opened on
November 17, 2014, with construction continuing on a complex of arts
and dining buildings in the surrounding area.
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and New Jersey
Transit have conducted studies to develop the Central
New Jersey Route
1 Bus Rapid Transit Project. Parts of the proposals call for the
construction of a "Dinky Transitway" along the Princeton Branch
right-of-way, which would incorporate the rail service and add
exclusive bus lanes and a greenway for bicycle and pedestrian
In April 2012, the university submitted a revised plan for the arts
and transit center, calling for the extension of the station's freight
house onto the right-of-way for possible use as a restaurant. The
Regional Planning Board introduced an ordinance requiring the land be
preserved for a transportation right-of-way that could eventually
extend farther into Princeton's central business district at Nassau
Street. According to the university, ownership of the trackage would
have to change hands in order for the transitway to be
implemented. Approvals were subsequently issued for converting the
station house and the extended freight house into a pair of
Connections / Notes
Amtrak: Northeast Regional, Keystone Service
Northeast Corridor Line
NJT Bus: 600, 612
MCAT shuttle: M6
January 31, 1971
demolished, just southeast of U.S. Route 1
1865, 1918, 2014
NJT Bus: 605
Princeton Tiger Transit: Free-B Commuter, West Line, Stanworth Line
^ "Quarterly Ridership Trends Analysis" (PDF). NJ Transit. November
^ a b Rosenbaum, Joel; Gallo, Tom (1997).
NJ Transit Rail Operations.
^ "Picks and Pans Review: Princeton Junction & Back". People. 11
(13). April 2, 1979. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
^ a b Armstrong, April C. (September 2, 2015). "Princeton Junction
& Back: Our Dinky Archives". Princeton University. Retrieved
October 4, 2016.
^ Frassinelli, Mike (June 25, 2013). "Historic Princeton 'Dinky' line
train station to move for arts center". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved
^ Knapp, Krystal. "Princeton Dinky Train Ridership: A Double-Digit
Decline". Planet Princeton. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
^ "Train Schedules: Princeton to Princeton Junction". New Jersey
Transit. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
^ a b Baer, Christopher T. "PRR Chronology". Pennsylvania Railroad
Technical & Historical Society. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
^ Lipp, Delmar (March 20, 1939). "A Short History of the Princeton
Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad". Princeton History: Papers
presented before the Historical Society of Princeton, Volume 2.
Princeton Public Library. pp. 14–34.
^ Messer, David W.; Roberts, Charles S. (2002). Triumph V:
Philadelphia to New York 1830–2002 (PDF). pp. 84–93.
Conrail Final System Plan
^ "Princeton University: Train Travel". Princeton University.
Retrieved October 9, 2011.
^ Reed, J. D. (March 31, 2002). "The Little Engine That Can". The New
York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
^ McIlroy, David (April 29, 2004). "The Dinky: Decades of history and
lore". Daily Princetonian. Archived from the original on February 27,
2007. CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
^ O'Bleary, Hugh (December 20, 2000). "The Great Dinky Robbery".
Princeton Alumni Weekly. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
^ Edwards, Selden (April 7, 2004). "The Great Train Robbery".
Princeton Alumni Weekly. Retrieved October 4, 2016. Two of the
kidnapped women were undergraduates from Smith College. Randol Foote
Haffner recalls sitting with her friend Susie Wolfe that Friday when
Goodridge, Bunn, and Perry explained the plan and recruited
^ "FAQ: The Dinky". Arts and Transit Neighborhood. Princeton
University. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
^ "Renzo Piano selected to design University Place/Alexander Street
neighborhood" (Press release). Princeton University. April 13, 2006.
Retrieved April 2, 2012.
^ Hersh, Matthew (November 29, 2006). "It's All Conceptual, but Talk
of BRT Has Princeton Buzzing". Town Topics. Retrieved March 30,
^ Hersh, Matthew (May 23, 2007). "PU Plans Still Relocate Dinky
Station". Town Topics. Princeton NJ. Retrieved December 12,
^ "More on the Dinky". National Association of Railroad Passengers.
June 21, 2007. Archived from the original on July 31, 2007. Retrieved
April 3, 2012.
^ "Save the Princeton Dinky". Save the Dinky, Inc. Retrieved April 3,
^ "After meeting, no change to Dinky". The Daily Princetonian. October
1, 2010. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
^ Davis, Mike (November 17, 2014). "New Dinky station opens to public,
part of Princeton U.'s arts and transit project". The Times of
Trenton. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
^ Patel, Ushma (November 3, 2014). "New Dinky station to open Nov. 17,
marking Arts and Transit Project milestone" (Press release). Princeton
University. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
^ "New Princeton Station Opens Monday, November 17, 2014". New Jersey
Transit. November 5, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
^ Knapp, Krystal (November 17, 2014). "New Dinky Station Opens in
Princeton". Planet Princeton. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
^ "US 1 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)". Delaware Valley Regional Planning
Commission. 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
^ "Fact Sheet 2008". Central
New Jersey Route 1 Bus Rapid Transit
New Jersey Transit. 2008. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
^ "Central NJ Route 1 BRT" (PDF).
NJ Transit Bus Service: The Next
New Jersey Transit. July 26, 2010. Archived from the
original (PDF) on October 13, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
^ Cherkin, Bridget (April 25, 2012). "
Princeton University submits
revised plan for $300M arts and transit center". The Times of Trenton.
Retrieved April 25, 2012.
^ Tanner, Pat (September 2016). "Jim Nawn has big plans for Dinky Bar
& Kitchen". Princeton Echo. Archived from the original on April
16, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2016. CS1 maint: BOT:
original-url status unknown (link)
Northeast Corridor Line" (PDF).
New Jersey Transit
New Jersey Transit Rail Operations.
Retrieved November 23, 2014.
^ "Middlesex County Area Transit (MCAT) M6 Shuttle" (PDF). Middlesex
County. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
^ Baer, Christopher T. (April 2015). "A General Chronology of the
Successors of the
Pennsylvania Railroad Company and Their Historical
Context: 1971" (PDF).
Pennsylvania Railroad Technical Historical
Society. p. 5. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
Route map: Google
KML file (edit • help)
Display on Google Maps
Template:Attached KML/Princeton Branch
KML is not from Wikidata
Burset, Christian (April 30, 2004). "N.J. Transit tests luxury
locomotive on Dinky line". Daily Princetonian. Retrieved October 4,
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