Malloy plans to fast-track trains, economy

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NEW HAVEN – As part of his 30-year, $100 billion plan to upgrade Connecticut’s transportation system, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy  Friday rolled out a plan to make the Metro-North New Haven line a greater economic engine for the state.

The New Haven line, running between the Elm City and New York’s Grand Central Terminal, is the busiest commuter rail service in the country.

“With about 125,000 daily rider trips at about 39 million passengers per year,” said Malloy, who added that the New Haven line has the potential of carrying thousands more commuters, if the four tracks it has access to are fully used.

“Today, only two or three tracks are in service at any one time,” said Malloy.

“We have a section of track in this area between New Haven in West Haven that is not (utilized). There is only three tracks,” said CT DOT commissioner, James Redeker. “And, we have tracks taken out of service across the length of the right-of-way due to bridge repairs.”

Several bridges, including Norwalk’s Walk Bridge, are over 100 years old and fail to open or close properly with regularity. When they’re repaired, frequency and speed of service can increase, said Redeker.

“We have sections of track, the signal system, communications systems, and some stations will be reconfigured,” he said.

This will make way for express train service on the two inner tracks and local trains will use the outer tracks, which could double peak-hour service.

“We want to increase the number of express trains between New Haven and New York from two per hour to at least four and possibly as many as eight an hour,” said Malloy.

The average travel time, between New Haven and New York, could drop 15 minutes on express service.

“For local service, the additional investment will mean trains every 4-8 minutes,” said Malloy.

This project, if fully funded, could be completed in 10 to 12 years, according to Redeker. The economic impact, Malloy says, could be $7 billion, after expenses.

This plan, part of the Let’s Go CT initiative,  could generate up to 3,100 full-time permanent jobs, according to Malloy and Redeker.