Central Corridor Rail Line

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This article is about a proposed passenger service in New England. For other Central Corridors, see Central Corridor.
Central Corridor Rail Line
Central Corridor Rail Line.svg
Overview
Type Regional rail
Status proposed
Locale New England
Termini New London
Brattleboro
Stations 10 (7 new; 3 serve other routes)
Technical
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Route map
Central Corridor Rail Line
Vermonter to St Albans
Brattleboro
Vermont/Massachusetts border
future Vermonter routing
Millers Falls
Amherst(current Vermonter stop)
Lake Shore Limited; Vermonter to Washington DC
Palmer
Massachusetts/Connecticut border
Stafford Springs
Mansfield / Storrs
Willimantic
Norwich
Mohegan
Amtrak to Boston
New London
Amtrak to Washington DC; Shore Line East to New Haven

The Central Corridor Rail Line is a proposed passenger service route between New London, Connecticut, and Brattleboro, Vermont. A primary purpose of the proposed service is to provide a rail link between 13 colleges and universities (including the state flagship schools UConn, UMass Amherst, and UVM[1]) as part of the Knowledge Corridor.[2]

Preparing the line for passenger service would require refurbishing the New England Central Railroad tracks, which also carry freight to New London's deepwater port.[3] The northernmost section, in Vermont, has been upgraded to continuously welded rail via a $50 million ARRA grant. New England Central estimates that similar upgrades (which include upgrading the track to standard 286,000 pound car loads) from the Massachusetts / Vermont border to New London would cost $18 million, while the full project including stations and rolling stock would cost $150 million.[1][4]

Rolling stock[edit]

Equipment is proposed to be refurbished 1950s Budd Rail Diesel Cars,[5] which are less expensive to operate than conventional locomotive-and-carriage trains on lower-density routes like the Central Corridor. The refurbished RDCs would be capable of operating at speeds up to 80 miles per hour - the FRA limit on track speed on the corridor.[6]

History and planning[edit]

New London Union Station, the proposed southern terminus of the Central Corridor line

The Central Vermont Railway operated passenger service from New London to Brattleboro and beyond along a line originally built by the New London Northern Railroad until 1966.[7]

Modern planning[edit]

During the building of Foxwoods Casino and Mohegan Sun Casino in the 1990s and 2000s, commuter rail service was considered on the New London to Norwich section of the line to reduce traffic impacts on Route 2.[8] However, upgrades to Route 2 were selected instead.

In October 2012, an excursion train was run to raise support for the project, which has been endorsed by a number of the town governments along the line.[4] In November 2012, officials from Mansfield, New London, Norwich, and Windham (all of which will be served by station stops) plus the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments signed an agreement to pursue funding for the service.[9]

In January of 2014, it was announced that backers of the line would try to seek federal funding in order to get the line funded. Congressman Joe Courtney is backing the project, along with State Senator Cathy Osten.[10] In September 2014, NECR was awarded a $8.2 million TIGER grant for upgrading 55 miles of track in Connecticut; the $10.5 million project is primarily for freight use but is also a prerequisite for any future passenger service.[11]

Relation to Vermonter[edit]

Main article: Vermonter

Currently, Amtrak's Vermonter runs over the NECR tracks from Palmer to Brattleboro, including the station stop at Amherst. However, the train is planned to be rerouted westward to Northampton and Holyoke to avoid the time-consuming backup at Palmer. The Central Corridor Rail Line would stop at Amherst, preventing the station stop (which serves UMass Amherst) from being abandoned as a station.

From its reinstatement in 1989 until 1995, the Montrealer (the direct predecessor of the Vermonter) ran along the alignment from New London to Palmer, instead of its present route from New Haven north to Springfield and east to Palmer. This routing included a stop at Willimantic starting in 1992.

Station Listing[edit]

State City Station Notes
Connecticut New London Union Station Connections to Amtrak, Shore Line East, SEAT
Montville Mohegan Mohegan Sun casino
Norwich Norwich Connection to SEAT at Norwich Transportation Center
Willimantic Willimantic Former Vermonter stop
Mansfield Storrs / Mansfield
Stafford Stafford Springs
Massachusetts Palmer Palmer
Amherst Amherst Current Vermonter stop
Millers Falls Millers Falls
Vermont Brattleboro Brattleboro Vermonter stop

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Central Corridor Rail Line". Rhode Island Association of Rail Passengers. Retrieved 16 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Edgecomb, Kathleen (27 October 2010). "'Visionary planning' looks at rail link to north". The Day. Retrieved 6 November 2010. 
  3. ^ "Our View: Rail would boost economy". Norwich Bulletin. 8 October 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Bessette, Claire (4 October 2012). "All aboard for the Central Corridor line". The New London Day. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Mosher, James (26 Oct. 2010). Central Corridor train plan getting on track. Norwich Bulletin. Accessed 6 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Summary of October 26, 2010 Meeting regarding the Proposed Central Corridor Rail Line". Rhode Island Association of Rail Passengers. 26 October 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2011. 
  7. ^ Henry, Helene J. and Mosley, Bruce M. "History of the Museum". Brattleboro Museum & Art Center. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Route 2A/2/32 Environmental Impact Statement: EIS alternatives". Connecticut Department of Transportation. 18 August 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2012.  (abstract)
  9. ^ Johnson, Jeffery A. (3 November 2012). "Towns sign rail expansion agreement". The New London Day. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  10. ^ Benson, Adam (21 February 2014). "Rail line plan to seek federal funding". Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "TIGER 2014 Awards". U.S. Department of Transportation. September 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2014. 

External links[edit]