Joan Hartley

State Senator

Joan Hartley

Chief Deputy President Pro Tempore

An Independent Voice

February 24, 2020

Senator Hartley Joins Waterbury Rail Caucus to Advocate for Commitment to Improving Waterbury Rail Service

HARTFORD – State Senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury) today joined members of the Waterbury Rail Caucus and many city and legislative leaders including Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren Hess, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (R-Derby), Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-Waterbury), Rep. Geraldo Reyes (D-Waterbury), Rep. Ron Napoli (D-Waterbury), Rep. Larry B. Butler (D-Waterbury), Rep. Tony D’Amelio (R-Waterbury), Rep. Stephanie Cummings (R-Waterbury), Sen. George Logan (D-Ansonia) and Rep. Michelle Cook (D-Torrington) to advocate for the state to commit to the Waterbury Rail Line. Legislators met before today’s Public Hearing in the Transportation Committee, all agreeing the Waterbury Rail Line is a regional priority and statewide economic benefit.

“This branch line is a conduit for a quarter-million people in the state of Connecticut. All of the assets are lined up but for the fact that we need to bolster this train line,” said Sen. Hartley. “We’re talking about a corridor that has a multi-racial demographic and wide-ranging incomes. It is rich with housing opportunities, wonderful schools and a train line that has not been developed as it should. This line is working in the dark ages – it’s a single-track that runs on diesel. Residents tell us frequently about their concerns with the upkeep and maintenance of the cars. They tell us they’re concerned about security and, often, how frustrating it is when they plan their commutes and cannot depend upon reliable service.”

Sen. Hartley and her fellow legislators argued in favor of Senate Bill 155, “An Act Concerning Rail Infrastructure Improvements,” discussed during Monday’s public hearing. While the current language of the bill indicates it would support a study of rail infrastructure issues, legislators advocated in support of general rail infrastructure improvements along the rail line, specifically for the state to finish work started by the Department of Transportation to take advantage of a $90 million investment in the project.

Without upgrading current rail equipment, acquiring new locomotives and cars, expanding services and developing rail storage and maintenance facilities, the legislators argued, the $90 million investment would not result in positive returns. The $90 million spent on the traffic control signal system needs equipment and service increases to truly benefit from the work, they said.

The project needs to be continued and completed to overcome issues such as speed restrictions, track restrictions, limited connections, limited station amenities, excessive delays and poor on-time performance, legislators said. One serious issue is that while 55 percent of riders transfer to the New Haven line, there are no direct outbound connections to the New Haven line.