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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Connecticut observes one-year anniversary of CTrail Hartford Line service NEWSWIRE

Connecticut observes one-year anniversary of CTrail Hartford Line service NEWSWIRE

By Scott A. Hartley | June 17, 2019

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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz address an audience observing the first anniversary of the state’s CTrail Hartford Line operation at Hartford Union Station on Monday.
Scott A. Hartley
HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut’s Hartford Line is expected to have carried more than 630,000 passengers in its first year of operation over Amtrak’s 62-mile New Haven-Springfield, Mass., line. The anticipated figures were announced as part of a Connecticut Department of Transportation “Hartford Line Year One Report,” released Monday.

Hartford Line service is provided by both Amtrak and CTrail trains, the latter operated by joint venture contractor Transit America Service Inc./Alternate Concepts Inc. Thirty-four weekday trains cover the 36-mile New Haven-Hartford segment. Many of these trains also operate north between Hartford and Springfield. Slightly fewer trains run on weekends. Hartford Line trains make connections with Amtrak Northeast Corridor and Shore Line East and Metro-North New Haven Line trains at New Haven.

Prior to the departure of Monday’s CTrail midday northbound train No. 4406 from New Haven, local, state and federal dignitaries marked the operation’s one-year anniversary by addressing attendees and riders. Mayor Toni Harp, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, along with Commissioner of Transportation Joseph Giulietti and Amtrak Assistant Vice President Thomas Moritz, all made brief statements. Lamont, Bysiewicz, Giulietti, and Moritz joined regular passengers on board No. 4406 for the 45-minute ride to Hartford, where a second ceremony was held. Lamont drew laughter as Amtrak passengers hurried through the crowd while attempting to board a southbound Amtrak shuttle train by loudly announcing “All Aboard for Train 473.”

The Year One Report focuses on on-time performance (89%, July 2018-April 2019), a November 2018 passenger satisfaction survey (more than 80% of respondents reported being satisfied with each of seven characteristics), bicycle racks (1,356 bicycle passengers through May), stations and parking, and development of additional electronic fare payment options. Still in progress is retrofitting of CTrail’s leased 31-year old passenger cars to include ADA-compliant toilets. The first two upgraded cars are due later this month.

Still in the future is double-tracking one of the route’s final two sections of single track, 8 miles of between Windsor and Enfield, Conn. (3.8 miles of single track will remain between Hartford and West Hartford), additional station stops at Enfield, West Hartford, Newington, and North Haven, and replacement stations at Windsor Locks and Windsor.

The report includes a simplified chart that shows the initial cost of the service during its first year. Expenses are listed as $43.9 million. with revenue of $7.2 million, leaving state and federal subsidies of $36.7 million. At the same time, an estimated $430 million has been invested in “transit economic development” along the Hartford Line route, the report states.About  1,400 residential units and 242,000 square feet of commercial office space have been constructed or are being designed, according to CTDOT. Much of this new construction involves re-purposing long-dormant large commercial and industrial buildings.
–This story was updated to better reflect the infrastructure between Hartford and West Hartford
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CTrail train No. 4406, carrying Connecticut’s governor, lieutenant governor, and transportation commissioner, arrives at Hartford on Monday. The state capitol can be seen behind the train.
Scott A. Hartley

7 thoughts on “Connecticut observes one-year anniversary of CTrail Hartford Line service NEWSWIRE

  1. “Ridership is being prioritized over covering costs.” Of course it is. That’s where the votes are. “Damn the taxpayers full speed ahead.” (With apologies to Admiral Farragut.)

  2. If I lived in CN I’d want to know the specifics of how that $430 million figure was arrived at. Was it all due to just the new commuter service or did someone somehow calculate every economic development that happened in a broad area of that part of CN and say it was due entirely to the new commuter rail?
    From personal experience in my state, I can say that when a governor or any other high ranking politician wanted figures computed to make them look good the normal process of obtaining valid information and proper statistical analysis went out the window. I suspect that is also a common occurrence in other states.
    Another factor is economically the entire USA has done quite well for the last several years, except for certain areas such as coal country. That has some impact as well.
    A building ridership will also result in additional costs–some of the variable costs will increase for sure. It is impossible for a commuter transit operation to have only fixed costs.

  3. The service will do better as ridership builds and costs remain the same. It normally takes 3 years for ridership to grow to meet potential.

    Also fares were lowered dramatically from what Amtrak charged. Ridership is being prioritized over covering costs.

    But taxpayers are laughing all the way to the bank about that. Did you catch that $430 million in development has resulted. So far. $430 million. Well past the cost of service. And not including other economic benefits like a more mobile work force. It’s really quite something to see these Connecticut towns suddenly start to come alive. So the state will do just fine economically as new tax revenue will exceed new operating costs.

  4. Only a Democrat governor would proclaim a service that only covers 16% of its cost a success. If the passengers are that satisfied with the service they should be willing to pay more in fares. Otherwise the remaining 84% will have to covered by the already overburdened taxpayers of Connecticut. In reality the 630,000 passengers translates to only a fraction of that number of people as most of the passengers are commuters and make several trips per week. It may not be possible to determine the number of actual people but even it it is about 20% that means that some 3,500,000 Connecticut residents subsidize some 126,000 people and that is probably being generous. It is probably more like 10% and 63,000 people.

    Mr. Shigley, that abandoned track to the left of the picture is actually the old northbound track in New Haven RR days and before the rationalizing of track through the station which once had 4 active tracks.

  5. wow, fares only cove 16% of operating costs. Amtrak does way better than that, maybe they should have left the service with ATK.

  6. James Shigley: You are correct. I apologize for my error. The 3.8 miles from Hart Interlocking through Hartford Union Station to Wood Interlocking in West Hartford also is single track. Much of that is likely to remain so until the future route of an I-84 rebuilding project is determined.

  7. Maybe it is double-tracked through Hartford, but the southbound track and shelter look to be in poor condition.

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