Contributed photo Emily Woodward Tracy
CTrail train in Windsor before the double tracking (Contributed photo Emily Woodward Tracy)

NEW HAVEN, CT — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal had some harsh words for Amtrak Friday.

He said it’s failing to provide the additional capacity to allow passengers to ride from Hartford to New Haven. He said the two cars Amtrak is providing on its trains up and down the line that runs between Springfield and New Haven is “insufficient” to meet the needs of riders.

His comments were in response to reports about some passengers getting kicked off the trains when they reach capacity.

Connecticut Public Radio reported that some passengers with CTrail tickets or U-Passes, which give students at participating colleges unlimited travel on buses and trains, were getting kicked off Amtrak when those trains reached capacity.

The Amtrak trains and CTrail trains run up and down the line and tickets and U-Passes are supposed to be good for use on any of the trains. Passengers are not supposed to get kicked off the train, but WNPR found passengers who were asked to get off the 4:32 p.m. train out of Union Station in Hartford and get on the next train, which was also crowded or late.

“People are literally being kicked off that train,” Blumenthal said.

He said it’s an “inadequate and intolerable” performance by Amtrak. He said it’s a management problem and insufficient investment.

A spokesman for Amtrak said they are working to ease the overcrowding on the line.

“While we never desire to restrict customer utilization of our trains, for the safety of our passengers and employees, crew members may ask passengers to wait for the next available train, instead of creating an unsafe condition, such as standing in the vestibule,” a spokesman said. “Amtrak and Connecticut DOT are working together to source additional equipment to help ease overcrowding and Amtrak has temporarily added some capacity on one of the New Haven-Springfield trains where we have experienced overcrowding. The safety of our customers must continue to be our highest priority.”

The Connecticut Department of Transportation announced Friday that more trains on the new CTrail Hartford Line will start running on Monday, Nov. 12.

The refined schedule, made possible by the completion of the second track to Springfield, will help provide more service between Hartford and Springfield, as well as connecting service to the New Haven line.

The second track allows trains operating north of Hartford to pass each other quickly and efficiently, providing additional rail capacity and increasing reliability. Two sets of track now run the length of the Hartford Line corridor from New Haven to Windsor, except for a small portion of single track near Hartford’s Union Station which will be completed as part of the I-84 Hartford Project.

“The new Hartford Line schedule includes an additional trip extended to Springfield every day. We will now offer 24 daily weekday trips between Hartford and Springfield,” Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said. “Less than six months after the launch of the Hartford Line, we have increased service on the line and are closer to reaching the 2030 vision of rail passenger service in New England.”