January 14, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—A big priority for Governor Dannel Malloy since he was first sworn in as governor of the Nutmeg State four years ago has been expanding passenger rail transportation options for Connecticut commuters and interstate riders. His latest commitment is the allocation of almost $6 million for four new rail stations.
At a time when most of the nation’s attention is focused on California when it comes to building out new passenger rail networks, Connecticut’s efforts have been slipping under the radar because the political battle in The Golden State has been so much fiercer.
But the Governor’s signature passenger rail network project is the restoration of commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts. Amtrak provides service along that 62-mile corridor via The Vermonter service, which runs daily between Washington, D.C. and St. Albans, Vermont. But the commuter service, dubbed the Hartford Line, will return passenger rail service to communities up and down the corridor, including Enfield, West Hartford, Newington and North Haven where the four new trains stations are to be constructed.
In a statement, Governor Malloy said that a combination of federal and state investments to restore the line would spur economic activity all along the line while also providing additional transportation options to relieve heavy congestion along the I-91 corridor.
“Creating a commuter rail line along the I-91 corridor is part of our transformative transportation vision for Connecticut. This bond authorization will give this important project needed momentum. Completing environmental work and design is what will propel the projects toward reality. This $365 million project will improve the quality of intercity service along the corridor and enhance regional rail connections,” said Malloy.
The state wants to run 25 round trips a day with half-hourly service during peak hours, compared to 12 round trips currently provided by Amtrak. Service is slated to start in December 2016.
The state also recently announced that it is seeking a service provider to operate trains along the 62-mile corridor, which could very well be Amtrak. If the contract does go to Amtrak, and not Metro-North or Keolis Commuter Services Inc., which operates commuter services in and around Boston, the new service would complement Amtrak’s faster, reconfigured route just north of Springfield, Massachusetts. Before the reconfiguration, Amtrak’s The Vermonter would have to travel east to Amherst before backtracking west and then heading northward, contributing to an extra 30 minutes of travel between Springfield and St. Albans, Vermont.