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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 Princeton Junction northwest to Princeton with no intermediate stops. Also known as the Dinky Line, or Princeton Junction and Back, 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 to places including Newark Airport, New York City, and Philadelphia can be boarded.


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.[1] The new alignment (now the Northeast Corridor Line) opened in 1863,[2] 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.[3]

The Pennsylvania Railroad leased and began to operate the C&A, including the Princeton Branch, in 1871.[4] 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.[5]

The Great Dinky RobberyEdit

The Great Dinky Robbery was a prank perpetrated by four Princeton University students on Friday, May 3 1963. 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 House Parties.

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.

Station listingEdit

Mile Post I IS BS TO BLS City Station Oper Connections
0.1West WindsorPrinceton Junction
1.4Penns Neck (F)(Closed)NJT
  • 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


  1. PRR Chronology, 1839PDF, June 2004 Edition
  2. PRR Chronology, 1863PDF, June 2004 Edition
  3. PRR Chronology, 1865PDF, June 2004 Edition
  4. PRR Chronology, 1871PDF, January 2005 Edition
  5. 1975 Conrail Final System Plan

External linksEdit

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New Jersey Transit Rail (website)
Hoboken Division Erie Lines: Bergen County LineMain LinePascack Valley LinePort Jervis Line
Morris & Essex Lines: Gladstone BranchMorristown Line
Montclair-Boonton Line
Newark Division North Jersey Coast LineNortheast Corridor LinePrinceton BranchRaritan Valley Line
South NJ and light rail Atlantic City LineHudson-Bergen Light RailNewark Light RailRiver LINE
Connections Aldene ConnectionHunter ConnectionKearny ConnectionMontclair ConnectionSecaucus JunctionWaterfront Connection
Other List of New Jersey Transit stationsRetired New Jersey Transit rail fleet
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New Jersey Transit Corporation
Bus Bus OperationsBus fleet
Rail Atlantic City Line
Main and Bergen County lines, including the Port Jervis LinePascack Valley Line
Montclair-Boonton LineMorris and Essex Lines (Morristown Line and Gladstone Branch)
North Jersey Coast LineNortheast Corridor Line and Princeton BranchRaritan Valley Line
StationsRetired fleet
Light Rail Hudson-Bergen Light RailNewark Light RailRiver LINE
Official websites New Jersey TransitHudson-Bergen Light RailRiver LINE

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