Test trains run on future Connecticut commuter route

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Connecticut Department of Transportation "Hartford Line" test train, with GP40-2H No. 6696 and Mafersa coaches, crosses the Connecticut River Bridge, at Enfield, Conn., on March 10, 2018.
Scott A. Hartley
HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut Department of Transportation’s "CTrail Hartford Line” commuter service took a big step forward in early March, operating its first crew familiarization train over the length of the 62-mile route between New Haven and Springfield, Mass. Contract provider TransitAmerica Services, along with line owner Amtrak, will begin running 34 daily trains over the line Monday through Friday in May.

The familiarization train consisted of a GP40-2H and three Mafersa-built push-pull coaches that are normally assigned to the agency’s Shore Line East commuter service between New London and Stamford, Conn. To staff the Hartford Line trains, Transit America has hired locomotive engineers and conductors from area freight railroads. “Many are already familiar with the territory,” according to Richard W. Andreski, chief of Connecticut's Bureau of Public Transportation. The special train (referred to on railroad radio as “test train” by dispatchers for Amtrak, which owns and operates the route) gave the new crews opportunities to make stops at each of the line’s nine stations, although no passengers boarded or detrained.
The new Hartford Line trains will share the mostly double-tracked route with Amtrak’s own Springfield-New Haven shuttle trains, as well as the Vermonters and a daily  Northeast Regional round trip between Springfield and Washington, D.C. There will be 17 daily New Haven-Hartford CTrail round trips. Twelve of those trains will continue 26 miles farther north to Springfield and return. Hartford Line trains will be leased Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB) coaches powered by GP40-2H units being rebuilt by National Rail Equipment in Mount Vernon, Ill. An as-yet unveiled rebranding of the agency's image will replace paint schemes reminiscent of those used by the New Haven Railroad.
According to Andreski, the state and Amtrak are close to having a ticketing agreement for trains operating on the Hartford Line. Fares for both railroads' services will be the same, and tickets will be honored on all trains. Except for the Vermonter, it will be "Any ticket, any train, any time," he says. In the future, CTrail ticket machines will enable a passenger to simultaneously purchase two tickets to allow passage between Hartford Line and MTA Metro-North railroad stations.

A tentative train schedule and a list of fares can be found at www.hartfordline.com.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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