|Service type||Commuter rail|
|Locale||Connecticut and Massachusetts|
|First service||January 2018 (planned)|
|Line used||New Haven–Springfield Line|
The Hartford Line is a planned commuter rail service between New Haven, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts. It will use Amtrak's New Haven–Springfield Line and supplement existing intercity rail services between the two cities. The project is a joint venture between the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts with support from the federal government as well. No operator has been selected. The service is expected to begin in January 2018.
In 1994 the Connecticut Department of Transportation conducted a feasibility study for a New Haven–Hartford service which envisaged three trips in the morning and three in the afternoon. It estimated that capital costs would be $4.4 million and that it would require an annual subsidy of $2.5 million. Ridership was projected at 1,000 per day. A revised and expanded proposal in 2001 contemplated service to Springfield and hourly service, with half-hourly service during peak periods. This would require $249 million in capital costs, both for rolling stock and to restore double tracking to the line. The service would require a yearly subsidy of $13 million but would carry 1,800–2,000 passengers daily.
Various delays have prevented the establishment of this service. One source of delay for re-establishment of this commuter rail line was lack of widespread support in the New Haven region. Although reestablishing this service was briefly mentioned in the South Central Regional Council of Government's January 2001 Long Range Mobility Plan it was not until 2003 that this commuter service provision began to consistently listed among key transportation priorities in the annual Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Legislative Agenda. A March 8–13, 2004 New Haven Register/Sacred Heart University transportation issues telephone study among a random sample of 801 Greater New Haven residents determined that 38.1% would be "very or somewhat likely" to patronize the line, indicating a renewed interest in the line.
The New Haven–Hartford–Springfield Commuter Rail Implementation Study, released in 2005 by ConnDOT, recommended half-hour peak service, with new stations at North Haven/Hamden, Newington, and Enfield. No action was taken following the study, as proposed schedules did not link well with those of the New Haven Line and ridership projections were low (particularly for northbound morning and southbound evening trips).
The plan calls for new stations to be built, existing stations improved, and for much of line to be double-tracked again (double track was removed beginning in 1990, leaving only single track with passing sidings). The Berlin/Kensington station was recently rebuilt with a new platform, providing room for an additional track.
A presentation given at various public information meetings in December 2008 identified service levels under both "Start Up" and "Full Build" options:
- Start Up
- 16 trains daily, each direction (15 on weekends)
- 30 minute headways during peak hours
- 1-2 hour headways off-peak
- service provided 15 hours daily
- Full Build
- 35 trains daily, each direction
- 15 minute headways during peak hours
- 1 hour headways off-peak
- service provided 20 hours daily
The above service figures include continuation of existing Amtrak service on the line. In January 2010, $40 million of stimulus funds were approved to double-track 11 miles of the corridor. In July 2010, Governor Jodi Rell asked the Connecticut State Bond Commission to authorize borrowing $260 million in an effort to attract additional federal matching funds, to double-track the remainder of the corridor, construct freight sidings, and improve signaling. These upgrades, together with new rolling stock, should allow for two-way service during peak hours at speeds from 20 to 80 miles per hour. On August 17, 2010, Connecticut lawmakers authorized borrowing the $260 million. In November 2010, Governor Rell announced that Connecticut received an additional $120.9 million in funds from the Federal government to fund the project.
As of April 2011, Connecticut State officials have applied for $227 million from the federal government that would complete track improvements between Hartford and Springfield, Mass. ConnDOT applied for the money to the Federal Railroad Administration, part of $2.4 billion that the governor of Florida rejected because of the spending it would require from his budget.
The Massachusetts portion of the Knowledge Corridor line has already been fully funded by a $70 million Federal grant, and an additional $70 million to renovate Springfield's Union Station, which closed down in 1973 following the completion of I-91.
On August 15, 2012, the Federal Railroad Administration granted a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on the line's environmental assessment - a major step towards the obligation of $121 million in federal funding for the line.
The choice of who will operate the line - Amtrak, Metro-North Railroad, or another operator - is under consideration. CTDOT announced a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in December 2014; this will be followed by a Request for Proposals (RFP) released in February 2015 and due in September 2015. The choice of operator will be made in December 2015.
In December 2015, the state announced that the cost of construction had increased by $135 million to $570 million, and that service would not begin until January 2018.
Through Hartford and West Hartford, the commuter line will share the Amtrak right of way with the CTfastrak busway from New Britain to Hartford. The right of way originally had space for four tracks, with the busway receiving a permanent easement to use the northern two tracks spaces. Amtrak and the commuter rail would share the southern two tracks, which would be newly rebuilt, as well as a maintenance road.
One proposal to replace the aging Interstate 84 viaduct through Hartford as part of the I-84 Hartford Project is an at-grade roadbed, which would require relocating the rail tracks and busway north of the new road. The viaduct crosses the tracks and busway twice, a route dictated by the placement of abutting development back when the viaduct was constructed in the 1960s. Subsequent demolition has made the proposal to move the tracks a viable option to consider.
The line currently operates with Amtrak GE Genesis locomotives and Amfleet coaches and cab cars. When the commuter rail service starts operation, the current Shore Line East EMD GP40-2 locomotives and the rebuilt VRE coaches and cab cars will be used on the New Haven-Springfield line.
- Stacom, Don (4 December 2015). "Springfield-To-New Haven Commuter Rail Cost Increases, Service Begins In 2018". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
- "Gov. Malloy Announced Three New Train Stations as Part of NHHS Rail Program" (Press release). Hartford, Connecticut: State of Connecticut, Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy. October 24, 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
- Fazzalaro, James J. (January 16, 2001). "New Haven-Hartford and Waterbury-Hartford Rail Service Proposals". Connecticut Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on September 27, 2006. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
- South Central Regional Council of Governments Mobility, A Transportation Plan for the Year 2020 page 8
- Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Legislative Agenda booklets 1997 p. 7, 1999 p.7, 2000 pp. 9,10, 2002 p. 14, 2003 p.6, 2004 p. 6, 2006 p. 2
- [dead link]
- Wilbur Smith Associates (2005). "Recommended Action" (PDF). New Haven Hartford Springfield Commuter Rail Implementation Study. Connecticut Department of Transportation. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
- Karr, Ronald Dale (1995). The Rail Lines of Southern New England. Branch Line Press. p. 78. ISBN 0942147022.
- [dead link]
- Hartford Courant (31 January 2010). "After Feds Put Connecticut Rail Plan On Slow Track, State Will Seek More Funds". courant.com.
- "High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program : Northeast Region" (PDF). Whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2015-05-06.
- "Gov. M. Jodi Rell seeks state OK to borrow $260 million to push high-speed rail". StamfordAdvocate.
- "State OKs $260 Million To Pay For Commuter Rail System". tribunedigital-thecourant.
- [dead link]
- "Conn. seeks funds for rail work on Hartford-to-Springfield line (document)". nhregister.com.
- "News and Information from Northampton, MA by the Daily Hampshire Gazette - GazetteNet.com". gazettenet.com.
- "Environmental Assessment". New Haven – Hartford – Springfield Rail Program. Connecticut Department of Transportation. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- "CTDOT Seeking Service Provider for New Haven-Hartford Springfield Rail Line" (Press release). Connecticut Department of Transportation. 18 December 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- "Amtrak Begins Substitute Bus Operation to Facilitate Construction on Hartford Line" (Press release). Connecticut Department of Transportation. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
- Tour with CTFastrak officials, circa April 2014
- Connecticut Department of Transportation (March 2011). New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail Project: Service Development Plan (PDF) (Report). Connecticut Department of Transportation.
- Wilburn Smith Associates (June 2005). New Haven–Hartford–Springfield Commuter Rail Implementation Study (PDF) (Report). Connecticut Department of Transportation.
- New Haven–Hartford–Springfield Rail Program - official website