Category Archives: Connecticut

Sens. Schumer, Blumenthal Introduce Rail-crossing Improvement Act

U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) earlier this week introduced a bill aimed at improving safety at grade crossings.

Chuck Shumer, NY Senator
Chuck Shumer, NY Senator

The Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety Act of 2015 was introduced in reaction to the recent MTA Metro-North Railroad accident in which a train collided with a sport utility vehicle that stopped on a crossing in Valhalla, N.Y. The incident resulted in six fatalities. In 2013, 2,096 accidents occurred at crossings that killed more than 200 people nationwide, the senators said in a joint press release.

The bill would boost the amount of federal grants for safety upgrades at crossings, and more education and safety awareness campaigns. The legislation would focus on what the senators said experts have identified as the “three Es” of the most effective means of reducing crossing collisions: engineering, education and enforcement.

“While the precise cause of the Metro-North crash in Valhalla is still under investigation, it’s crystal clear that the existence of the grade crossing played at least some role in the fatal, tragic accident, and this new legislation will focus on providing new resources to the Federal Railroad Administration, states and localities to help make much-needed improvements at many crossings and help eliminate future collisions. Improved safety must rise from this dark tragedy,” Schumer said.

Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Senator
Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Senator

The senators call for additional resources for education was hailed by Operation Lifesaver inc. (OLI) President Joyce Rose.

“Education plays a crucial role in raising awareness among motorists and pedestrians about the potential dangers present at all highway-rail intersections and along train tracks,” she said.

A person or vehicle is hit by a train every three hours, according to OLI. Ninety-five percent of all fatalities on U.S. railroads are due to people trying to beat a train at a crossing or walking on railroad tracks. Schumer and Blumenthal said that many of those deaths are preventable.


Metro North Accident Valahalla
Metro North Accident Valahalla

Connecticut Gov. Malloy highlights rail corridor, transportation projects in state address

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy yesterday toured the Meriden train station on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) rail corridor to highlight his vision for investing in the state’s transportation infrastructure, which he outlined in his State of the State address earlier this week.

The location of the tour is the site of an ongoing transit-oriented development (TOD) project with a primary focus on stimulating development within a half mile of the proposed Meriden Intermodal Center.

“This project will transform the 91 corridor with high-speed rail while revitalizing cities and towns between New Haven and Hartford,” Malloy said in a press release. “The citizens and business community in Meriden and its surroundings will benefit from our investments for years to come.”

In October 2011, the governor announced $5 million for local TOD projects, including $850,000 to the city of Meriden for market and environmental analyses, and other studies and surveys related to the NHHS rail line.

“The TOD project will foster economic development in the various towns and surrounding regions by supporting local projects that connect state residents to job opportunities, housing, cultural centers and more,” said Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker.

The new NHHS service will be called the Hartford Line, and is expected to increase the number of roundtrip trains from six daily Amtrak shuttles to 17 trains, including existing Amtrak trains plus 11 new commuter trains. Service is scheduled to start in late 2016.

Under the project, all existing stations will be replaced and several new stations will be built.

Meridan, CT station   from Charlie Gunn
Meridan, CT station from Charlie Gunn


Find out about accomplishments and Fair Promise


Connecticut DOT seeks service provider for New Haven-Hartford Springfield line

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has issued a request for qualifications seeking a service provider to operate the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield passenger-rail line beginning in late 2016, the department announced late last week.

CTDOT is searching for an operator for the 62-mile long train line, now branded as the CTrail Hartford Line. The operator will provide train crews and station maintenance services, according to a CTDOT press release.

The deadline for the RFQ is Feb. 27, 2015, when a request for proposals will be issued. Responses to the RFP will be due in September 2015, with selection of a service provider anticipated for December 2015, department officials said.

The line is owned by Amtrak, which currently operates service on the line, including the Vermonter. Amtrak will continue to operate its trains and maintain the railroad right of way.

“This $365 million High Speed Rail Project will improve the quality of intercity service along the corridor and enhance regional rail connections,” said CTDOT Commissioner James Redeker. “Connecticut will add 22 CTrail trains per day to the 12 trains that Amtrak currently operates. This project will make rail travel far more attractive and competitive in the corridor.”

The department expects that by 2016’s end, the entire corridor between Hartford and New Haven will be double-tracked. Key to the program is installation of a state-of-the-art signal system that includes positive train control to ensure safety along the entire corridor. Station improvements will include the addition of high-level boarding platforms, pedestrian bridges, increased parking, ticket vending machines, passenger information displays and many other enhancements at the Meriden, Wallingford, Berlin and Hartford Stations, CTDOT officials said.

Find out about PROMISES and PROMISES