A Hartford Line train in Hartford on opening day, June 16, 2018.
|Service type||Commuter rail|
|Locale||Connecticut and Massachusetts|
|First service||June 16, 2018|
|Current operator(s)||TransitAmerica Services/Alternate Concepts Inc. (CTrail trains) & Amtrak|
|Start||Union Station, New Haven, Connecticut|
|Stops||9 (initial service)|
|End||Union Station, Springfield, Massachusetts|
|Distance travelled||62 mi (100 km)|
|Average journey time||81 minutes|
16 weekday round trips|
12–13 weekend round trips
|Line(s) used||New Haven–Springfield Line|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
Up to 110 mph (180 km/h) (Amtrak trains)|
Up to 79 mph (127 km/h) (CTrail trains)
The Hartford Line is a commuter rail service between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts. It uses Amtrak's New Haven–Springfield Line and supplements existing inter-city 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. The service launched on June 16, 2018.
During the mid-1980s, due to the high cost of operating the New Haven–Springfield Line and the competing newly-constructed expressways, Amtrak removed 25 miles (40 km) of track, turning the line from a double-track line to a line with a single track with passing sidings. Of the 62 miles (100 km) between New Haven and Springfield, 23.3 miles (37.5 km) of double track and 38.7 miles (62.3 km) of single track were left.
In 1994, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) 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 initially prevented the service. One source was a lack of widespread support in the New Haven region. Although reestablishing 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 the commuter service provision began to be consistently listed among key transportation priorities in the annual Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Legislative Agenda.
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 called for the improvement of existing stations and the construction of new stations along the line. To facilitate frequent and bi-directional service, the line incorporates newly installed double track totaling 27 miles (43 km) as well as 2 miles (3.2 km) of new passing sidings. Five new interlockings were built and new signal systems were installed, including the installation of Positive Train Control. Bridges and culverts on the line have been repaired, rehabilitated or replaced.
In January 2010, $40 million of stimulus funds were approved to double-track 10.5 miles (16.9 km) of the corridor under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. 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 of up to 110 miles per hour (180 km/h). On August 17, 2010, Connecticut lawmakers authorized borrowing the $260 million.
On October 25, 2010, Governor Rell announced that Connecticut received an additional $120.9 million in funds from the federal government to fund the double tracking of the remainder of the line south of Hartford as well as station improvements in Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin and Hartford.
As of April 2011, Connecticut State officials had applied for $227 million from the federal government that would complete track improvements between Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts. ConnDOT applied for the money to the Federal Railroad Administration, part of $2.4 billion that Florida governor Rick Scott rejected because of the spending it would require from his budget. In May 2011, Connecticut was awarded $30 million for track improvements in Hartford.
On August 15, 2012, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) 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.
In February 2017, the state approved an additional $50 million in bonded funds for the project. The money will support design of the rebuilt Windsor and Windsor Locks stations and of the new stations at North Haven, Newington Junction, West Hartford, and Enfield. It will also complete funding for four miles (6.4 km) of double track being added north of Hartford, and pay for design and environmental permitting for an additional 7.5 miles (12.1 km) of double track between Hartford and Enfield. If further funding is found to build these additional miles, it would complete the double-tracking of the line except for downtown Hartford and the aging Warehouse Point railroad bridge.
The budgeted funds for the Connecticut portion to date total $769.1 million, of which $204 million has come from the Federal sources ($190.9 million from the FRA, $13.9 million from the Federal Transit Administration) and the balance from the state of Connecticut.
In 2015, major construction commenced at the four stations in Berlin, Meriden, Wallingford, and Hartford. On August 3, 2015, Amtrak began busing its weekday morning and evening New Haven–Springfield Shuttles trains to allow double tracking work to begin.
In December 2015, the state announced that the cost of construction had increased by $135 million for a total of $570 million, and that service would not begin until January 2018.
In July 2016, work began at the New Haven State Street station on a new high-level platform. In August 2016, a new 260-foot (79 m) high-level platform was put into service at Hartford. The platform was constructed on the existing low-level platform.
On October 11, 2016, a 17-car track-laying train began work to build the second track on the southern half of the line. The train laid track from North Haven to Meriden in October 2016, and returned for Meriden to Newington in 2017.
On June 12, 2018, the Hartford Courant reported that the connection between a new double track section from Hartford to Windsor and an existing section from north of Windsor to south of Windsor Locks won't be completed until September. However, this will not allow the line to add more service, rather just make it more reliable should a train become late. Once this is done, fewer than twelve miles (19 km) of single track will remain along the entire line. Minor construction at the Windsor station will be finished over the few weeks after service launch.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced on July 24, 2017 that TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts Inc., operating as a joint venture, won a 5-year $45 million contract to operate the Hartford Line.
Connecticut DOT provides eight round trip commuter trains on weekdays under its new CTrail branding that are operated by its new contractor. Five of these terminate at Hartford, with the remaining three continuing north to terminate in Springfield. Additionally, Amtrak has added three New Haven–Springfield round trip Shuttles in addition to its previous six round trip runs. Altogether there are sixteen round trips between New Haven and Hartford, with eleven of them operating the full line to Springfield. On weekends and holidays, CTrail operates six New Haven–Hartford round trips and two New Haven–Springfield round trips. Amtrak continues to offer its existing weekend service with some minor schedule changes. Together, twelve–thirteen round trips are offered on weekends.
Serviced commenced on June 16, 2018, with free weekend service being offered on June 16 and 17. Full service commenced on June 18.
The Amtrak portion of the program, including three new weekday New Haven–Springfield round trips and general alterations to the Amtrak schedule on the line took effect on June 9, 2018, with the new lower fares taking effect on the CTrail launch date on June 16.
On June 18, 2018, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced that the line carried 21,850 riders over opening weekend, with 10,300 on Saturday, June 16, and 11,550 on Sunday. On June 26, it was announced that 10,719 customers rode the line during the first full week of operation, June 18 to 24.The average daily ridership (weekdays and weekends) is 1,531.
On October 23, 2017, the state announced its proposed fares, with a trip from New Haven to Hartford priced at $8 and from New Haven to Springfield at $12.75, both roughly half as much as Amtrak; discounts for bulk purchases of tickets and commuter passes are also offered. Amtrak will accept Hartford Line tickets onboard all Amtrak trains along the line, except for the Vermonter. Amtrak will also be adopting Hartford Line fares for Amtrak trips along the line; intercity trips beyond New Haven will remain at the same current fares. Tickets can be purchased at ticket vending machines (TVMs) at all stations, except for Windsor and Windsor Locks, where the on-board surcharge will be waived. Windsor and Windsor Locks will have ticket machines by around mid-July.
Amtrak operates current intercity on the line with GE Genesis diesel locomotives, Amfleet coaches and ex-Metroliner cab cars running in push-pull configuration. In December 2017, the state signed an agreement to lease 16 MBB coaches from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for three years, at a cost of $4.54 million, with options to extend the lease for up to three more years. The 16 cars are operated in four-car consists in a push-pull configuration with GP40-2H locomotives transferred over from Shore Line East. The railcars required significant repair and repainting before entering service, leading the Connecticut DOT to request $2.3 million from the state legislature in April 2018.
On June 12, 2018, the Connecticut DOT published a press release stating that the Federal Railroad Administration had reversed its decision on allowing the Connecticut DOT to operate Hartford Line trains without accessible bathrooms until new ones are installed, saying "...the bathrooms must now remain locked until the modifications are complete and one accessible restroom per consist is available." Amtrak trains have fully accessible restrooms on board. The DOT claims they "will work aggressively to ensure restrooms are available on all trains early in 2019." Renovations are already being performed on spare cars.
Connecticut plans to buy new equipment for the Hartford Line, as a bulk purchase with Metro-North Railroad's Danbury and Waterbury branches, after about five years of operation, although replacing the leased equipment with the current Shore Line East Mafersa coaches that will be displaced by the Kawasaki M-8s remains an option.
|Builder||Model||Photo||Quantity||Year built||Year acquired||Notes|
|EMD||GP40-2H||6||1971||1996||All units have been overhauled and repainted.|
|MBB||Coaches||16||1988||2018||Leased from MBTA. Operating as four-car consists.|
- "AMTRAK RUNS TEST TRAINS OF UP TO 110 MPH IN PREPARATION FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE HARTFORD LINE ON JUNE 16" (Press release). Connecticut Department of Transportation. June 6, 2018. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
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- New Haven – Hartford – Springfield Rail Program [@NHHSRail] (April 3, 2018). "1 of 2: CTDOT has received confirmation that Amtrak will accept Hartford Line tickets onboard all Amtrak trains between New Haven and Springfield upon service launch, with the exception of the Vermonter. Tickets sold by Amtrak will be at Amtrak fare rates" (Tweet). Retrieved April 11, 2018 – via Twitter.
- "CTrail Hartford Line Rail Service Scheduled to Launch June 16th!". Facebook. April 24, 2018.
At the Meriden Ribbon Cutting Event, it was announced that Amtrak would be lowering one-way fares to match Hartford Line fares.
- New Haven – Hartford – Springfield Rail Program [@NHHSRail] (April 3, 2018). "2 of 2: Tickets at Hartford Line fare rates will only be sold at TVMs at Hartford Line stations, except for Windsor and Windsor Locks, and on board CTrail Hartford Line trains. Passengers boarding at Windsor/Windsor Locks will not have to pay the on board surcharge" (Tweet). Retrieved April 11, 2018 – via Twitter.
- "Rail Car Repairs, Leasing Issues Put Hartford Line Start Date in Doubt". Hartford Courant. April 4, 2018. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
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- New Haven – Hartford – Springfield Rail Program [@NHHSRail] (March 13, 2018). "For the Hartford Line's service launch, CTDOT is leasing legacy Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) coaches from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The SLE train used last weekend was for testing and training purposes only" (Tweet). Retrieved March 22, 2018 – via Twitter.
- 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 2, 2016.
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