Connecticut opens second station on new commuter line

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ConnGovDannelMalloyMeriden
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy cuts the ceremonial ribbon at the new rail station at Meriden on Thursday.
Connecticut Department of Transportation
MERIDEN, Conn. – With the opening of Connecticut Department of Transportation’s new “Hartford Line” commuter service pushed back a month from May until June 16, the agency showed its ongoing progress on April 19 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new station in downtown Meriden. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Transportation Commissioner James Redeker, Meriden Mayor Kevin Scrapati, and local and state elected officials addressed a large gathering on a cold and wet morning.

The station is one of three newly constructed high-level facilities alongside the 62-mile route between New Haven and Springfield, Mass. The new service, to be operated by TransitAmerica Services, will offer 17 New Haven-Hartford round trips each weekday, with 12 of those pairs continuing to and from Springfield. Both Malloy and Redeker stressed the convenience of added service frequency with lower fares that currently are charged on Amtrak’s shuttle trains on the line.

In the past two weeks, the new rail service has received local media and legislative attention following Hartford Courant newspaper stories reporting that the Connecticut Department of Transportation will begin operations with 30-year-old Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm commuter coaches leased from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The stories cite a 2011 MBTA fleet plan that had recommended against making further repairs on these cars, instead choosing to purchase new equipment. CDOT had announced the lease agreement in late 2017, but the issue had not received much attention until the recent newspaper stories. The agency has responded to these reports by pointing out that coaches used on its Shore Line East trains, which initial project plans would have shifted to the Hartford Line until funding could be made available for new cars, were built in 1991-1992, and that Amfleet cars running on the Hartford Line are more than 40 years old. CDOT reported that it sent its own team of technical experts to inspect the MBTA coaches and to select the best cars for the Hartford service. In addition, Amtrak maintenance staff inspected the Massachusetts cars. Four of the overhauled MBTA cars, wrapped in a new gray, red, and white “CTrail” design, already are in Connecticut. The remaining 12 cars are receiving mechanical work in Massachusetts and will be wrapped in Rhode Island prior to being sent to Connecticut.

So far, one of six GP40-2H locomotives being rebuilt by National Rail Equipment in Mount Vernon, Ill., has been returned to Connecticut, and is being tested. All six carried CDOT’s New Haven Railroad red/white/black “NH” image, but are returning in a mostly-black “CTrail” scheme that carries a new stylized logo that also is appearing on state-sponsored highway transit vehicles.

At some point during the three-year car lease contract, the DOT plans to issue a request for proposals to buy brand-new coaches for the Hartford Line, an agency spokesman tells Trains News Wire.
AmtrakShuttleMeridenConn
Amtrak New Haven-Springfield shuttle train No. 460 departs the new station at Meriden on April 19. Cab control car was built by Budd as an electrified Metroliner car in 1967.
Scott A. Hartley

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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