Connecticut To Seek Operators For New Haven-Springfield Commuter Rail Line

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Newington Junction Station in 1930’s

Newington Junction is a section of the town of Newington, Connecticut. It is centered at the intersection of Willard Avenue (Route 173) and West Hill Road in the northwestern part of the town, in the area generally just south of the Hartford city line. The name of the area refers to the railroad junction where the railroad line from New Haven meets with the railroad line from Bristol and Waterbury. The depot on the left was built in 1891 by the New York & New England RR. The passenger station on the right and the freight depot behind it were constructed by the NYNH&H in 1890.

Thanks to Tyler City Station, The most authoritative source for information on Connecticut railroad stations

The Hartford and New Haven Railroad of Connecticut was chartered in 1833 to build a railroad between Hartford and New Haven. The Hartford and Springfield Railroad was incorporated April 5, 1839. It built the Massachusetts portion of the Hartford-Springfield route, which opened in 1844. In 1847, it was united with the Hartford and New Haven Railroad. The H&NH was consolidated into the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in 1872. Ownership of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line passed to Penn Central and was sold to Amtrak when Conrail was formed. During Amtrak ownership, the second track was ripped up. Can’t blame them, but Governor Malloy’s predecessors should have stepped in and paid to keep it.

Update April 3, 2014

Connecticut is looking for providers to operate a planned high-speed commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield.

Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration says it will begin accepting competitive proposals from railroad companies in the next six to twelve months to operate the shuttle, which is scheduled to begin service in late 2016.

Deputy Transportation Commissioner Anna Barry says the process is designed to get the best quality operation and customer service along a key corridor.

We’re making improvements to the line to improve speeds up to a maximum of 110 miles an hour,” Barry says. “And we think we’ll offer a competitive travel time for folks who are traveling between New Haven and Springfield and points in between. And we think it will provide a tremendous opportunity for folks traveling between those points for work, school, recreation and overall economic development.”

Barry says Amtrak, which owns the tracks, is being encouraged to compete to provide the shuttle service that is slated to start with about ten round trips a day  Lot of good competitors out there too, starting with MTA Metro-North. Put Veolia in there too.

Saw recently that the Governor arranged for a special train to New York City for fans of University of Connecticut going to their successful basketball finals. But the train started in New Haven! Last I knew, UCONN was east of Hartford in Storrs. No rail there, transportation is provided by the Mary Martin bus company. But just a few miles away is Manchester served by freight railroad Connecticut Southern Railroad. Wave some dollar bills in front of them, and I bet they would let a special train use their tracks. No, the problem was probably between Hartford and New Haven with, of course, Amtrak.

Like the I-95 corridor across southern Connecticut, the I-91 corridor through the center of Connecticut is a vital artery for economic development and jobs growth,” Governor Malloy said.  “Enhancing commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield will benefit commuters and their employers, and will reduce traffic congestion by taking cars off the road, with the added bonus of reduced pollution.”

The Governor continued, “As the gateway to New England, the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail program will also facilitate improved service to Massachusetts, Vermont and eventually Montreal.  New train service will connect communities, generate sustainable economic growth, help build energy independence, and provide links to travel corridors and markets within and beyond the region.”

Amtrak will remain responsible for existing services on the line. For current services, visit www.amtrak.com

The New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail Program (www.nhhsrail.com) will provide significant new regional passenger rail service options as a key component of a robust and vibrant multi-modal regional transportation system.  With funding from the new High-Speed Intercity Rail Program created in 2008, the NHHS Rail Program will provide the infrastructure and trains to operate some of the nation’s best passenger rail services.  As the gateway to New England, the NHHS Rail Program will also facilitate improved service to Massachusetts, Vermont and eventually Montreal.

In the future, NHHS rail service will operate at speeds up to 110 mph, cutting travel time between Springfield and New Haven to as little as 73 minutes.  Travelers at New Haven, Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Springfield will be able to board trains approximately every 30 minutes during the peak morning and evening rush hour and hourly during the rest of day, with direct or connecting service to New York City and multiple frequencies to Boston or Vermont (via Springfield).  Future train stations also are planned at North Haven, Newington, West Hartford and Enfield.

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