Contact: Lawrence Cook
September 5, 2014
NAUGATUCK—State Senator Joseph J. Crisco (D-Woodbridge) and state Representative Linda M. Gentile (D-Ansonia) joined a packed house of Waterbury rail line commuters Thursday night to receive an update from state Department of transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker on plans to improve this heavily travelled but poorly maintained Metro North commuter train line.
“The commissioner had some good news to offer, and I appreciate the attention that he and other transportation officials had to offer, but permanent fixes for several long-term problems still remain a long way off,” Sen. Crisco said. “The incremental improvements are appreciated, but the overall situation s till remains very frustrating.”
“This rail line is very important to many commuters here in the Valley. They deserve the opportunity to travel to work in comfort and convenience,” said Rep. Gentile. “Small fixes can go a long way in providing that comfort and convenience. They are a good short term solution while formulating a comprehensive plan. Commissioner Redeker understands the challenges this line faces and I believe he is committed to finding solutions.”
“The commuters appreciated the firepower that was there last night,” said Connecticut Commuter Rail Council Vice Chairperson Jim Gildea of Derby, who also attended Thursday’s meeting. “And Senator Crisco has come to every meeting. I couldn’t be more appreciative of him.”
The Waterbury Branch Line of Metro North serves about 460 commuters a day (500 on Sundays) with stops in Waterbury, Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, Seymour, Ansonia, Derby, Milford, Stratford and Bridgeport.
Commuters have long complained about dirty train car bathrooms, insufficient schedules, insufficient parking at stations, the inability to pre-purchase tickets at the stations, a lack of notification when trains are running late and a host of other issues.
Some of the problems are more ingrained: the line only has a single track, it is not signaled, and it is not electrified (therefore requiring the use of diesel engines.)
But Gildea said Commissioner Redeker told Thursday’s crowd he is seeking some smaller improvements for the line, including:
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