DOT to issue RFP for enhanced N.H.-Springfield service


HARTFORD — The state will be seeking proposals from railroad companies to begin operating more robust commuter service on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line in 2016.


“Like the I-95 corridor across southern Connecticut, the I-91 corridor through the center of Connecticut is a vital artery for economic development and jobs growth,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.  “Enhancing commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield will benefit commuters and their employers, and will reduce traffic congestion by taking cars off the road, with the added bonus of reduced pollution.


“As the gateway to New England, the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail program will also facilitate improved service to Massachusetts, Vermont and eventually Montreal,” added Malloy. “New train service will connect communities, generate sustainable economic growth, help build energy independence, and provide links to travel corridors and markets within and beyond the region.”


The state’s Department of Transportation will be seeking proposals over the next six to 12 months. Current service is provided by Amtrak, which owns the line.


“The state of Connecticut believes that the benefits to the customers of our new service can best be realized in the marketplace,” wrote DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker in a letter to Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman. “We intend to issue a Request for Proposals that will invite state-of-the-art, proven strategies for the highest quality operations, customer service and maintenance. “While federal and state statutes drive open competition, the importance of competition to high-quality service is equally or more important.”


The letter to Amtrak concludes with, “We appreciate the long-standing favorable relationship the Department and Amtrak enjoy, and we encourage Amtrak to pursue this new opportunity with us.”


Commissioner Redeker also pointed out that Amtrak will remain responsible for existing services on the line.


The objective of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail Program is to provide significant new regional passenger rail service options as a key component of a robust and vibrant multi-modal regional transportation system. With funding from the new High-Speed Intercity Rail Program created in 2008, the NHHS Rail Program is intended to provide the infrastructure and trains to operate improved passenger rail service. The NHHS Rail Program will also facilitate improved service to Massachusetts, Vermont and eventually Montreal.


In the future, NHHS rail service will operate at speeds up to 110 mph, cutting travel time between Springfield and New Haven to as little as 73 minutes, according to the DOT. Travelers at New Haven, Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Springfield will be able to board trains approximately every 30 minutes during the peak morning and evening rush hour and hourly during the rest of day, with direct or connecting service to New York City and multiple frequencies to Boston or Vermont (via Springfield).  Future train stations also are planned at North Haven, Newington, West Hartford and Enfield.