Extended Connecticut rail line delayed until 2018 due to deteriorated tracks, bridges

January 1, 2016

By Mike Savino, Journal Inquirer

Poorly kept rights of way means passengers looking to ride the train from Springfield to New Haven will need to wait another year.Website Insert Perfect Answer copy

The New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line now isn’t scheduled to take passengers until January 2018, and Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said it’s because state officials found “far more deterioration” than they expected.

Redeker said during an appearance Dec. 14 that the rail corridor needs to be widened in some spots, and the state will need to replace almost all of the bridges and reconstruct most of the culverts along the rail line.

The State Bond Commission approved the release of $135 million on Dec. 11 for the completion of track and infrastructure improvements along the line, as well as $12 million for the purchase of locomotives and $20 million for various improvements and designs.

It had been expected that the rail line, which is planned to include commuter stops in Enfield, Windsor, and Windsor Locks, would begin transporting passengers before the end of 2016.

Amtrak owns the rail line, and Redeker said the problems are due to the corporation’s failure to conduct routine maintenance.

“Amtrak is struggling, I think, with delivering projects,” Redeker said.

But he also defended Amtrak, which is partially funded with federal aid, by saying the corporation doesn’t receive enough money and has thus failed to properly invest in its lines for decades.

Redeker said the timetable is extended in part because freight carriers still use the line currently — the line will remain open, but service will be halted for a few hours each day for work.

The state’s ability to conduct some of the work also depends on the weather, including the possibility of the ground freezing should typical winter temperatures return, Redeker said.

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