October 28, 2022

Senator Haskell, Senator Duff, Westport And Transportation Leaders Detail The Latest Plans For Connecticut Train Service

Today, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport), Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk), State Representative Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport), Westport First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker and Connecticut Department of Transportation Senior Advisor Carlo Leone visited the Westport Train Station to provide updates and details regarding the Connecticut Rail Plan, which was recently completed. The Rail Plan, updated every five years, is a deep dive into rail transportation with specific takeaways and points of emphasis for optimal success of passenger rail through 2027.

“From the moment I was elected, I’ve been hyper-focused on Connecticut’s trains. Why? My constituents rely on them every day,” said Sen. Haskell. “I’ve heard from folks about the need for faster and more frequent service, and for better quality of life during the ride – Wi-Fi and cell service being among the biggest pressure points. The CT Rail Plan addresses all of these needs and sets a path for the next five years of Connecticut rail service. Our train services provide vital connections for millions of riders each year, and I’m glad we have a cohesive and thorough plan to bring them into the 21st century.”

“Connecticut’s commuters depend on Metro-North and the state’s other commuter rail systems. One of the most encouraging points of focus in the Rail Plan is to improve both the frequency and the speed of commuter trains,” said Sen. Duff. “More trains on the schedule provide commuters with more flexibility and enhances their ability to plan out the best schedule for them. When those trains run faster, they’ll spend less time commuting and more time at work, or even better, with their families. I’m looking forward to seeing how these goals are reached in our next half-decade.”

“Did you know commuter trains can achieve 15.6 more miles per gallon per passenger than the most efficient cars on the road today? That’s a testament to the role public transportation and trains can play in fighting greenhouse gas pollution,” said Rep. Steinberg. “The CT Rail Plan discusses potential use of alternative fuels and electrification of rail lines in Connecticut, and I’m especially happy to see the Department of Transportation focusing on system resiliency against severe weather as well. Rail transportation can help the environment and the more we invest in these systems, the more benefits we’ll receive out of them.”

“Connecticut’s rail system continues to experience strong recovery with increasing ridership and expanded services across the state,” said Connecticut Department of Transportation Senior Advisor Carlo Leone. “Our vision for the Connecticut Rail Plan is to foster a vibrant passenger rail and freight system that is safe, connects communities, and supports economic growth in Connecticut and throughout the region. We thank the state legislature, members of the public, and transportation stakeholders for providing us critical feedback on how the rail system has served them, and how it can improve for the future.”

The latest Connecticut Rail Plan, designed to be an effective document for rail operations through 2027, was recently completed with important aspects of design necessary for the optimal success of rail transportation in the next five years. While rail in the state found success in the last five years, including the development of the Hartford Line, which has spurred $430 million of transit-oriented development investments since its enactment, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have reduced ridership on various lines by between 28% and 72%.

This report has several recommendations for best actions to improve Connecticut rail service, including improving rail network speed and train timelines to reduce transit times and improve quality of service among riders; focusing on rail projects allowing Metro-North and inter-city rail services more connectivity to points of origin like Penn Station; and improving the quality of train coaches on the Hartford, Waterbury and Danbury Lines. The “Time For CT” project, which seeks to reduce New Haven-New York City transit speeds by 25 minutes by the year 2035, was also highlighted as a vital need.

The plan further suggests improving grade crossings and enhancing signal and communication operations to improve safety; improve rider experiences and system reliability by updating outdated rolling stock; improving mobility by meeting both physical barriers for riders with disabilities and access needs by connecting train stations to bus services; meeting financial sustainability by emphasizing economic competitiveness, environmental advantages of rail use; and making the train system more sustainable, especially through making passenger trains more resilient against severe weather.

To read the full Rail Plan and an executive summary of the document, please visit https://portal.ct.gov/DOT/Publictrans/Office-of-Rail/Connecticut-State-Rail-Plan to register.