HARTFORD, CT— It’s been a year since the CTRail line between Springfield and New Haven opened for business and ridership is about 51,000 passengers above original projections.
The service, which includes stops in Springfield, Windsor Locks, Windsor, Hartford, Berlin, Meriden, Wallingford, and New Haven has served 634,000 passengers. Thirty-two trains run daily between the two cities.
Additional stations are currently being planned for North Haven, Newington, West Hartford, and Enfield. Nearly the entire corridor — 50 of the 62 miles — has now been “double-tracked” to facilitate the efficient movement of trains.
Overcrowding is still a problem, especially on Fridays between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. To resolve the issue there’s express bus service available to carry ticketed passengers between Hartford and New Haven.
Richard Andreski, public transportation bureau chief at the Department of Transportation, said they designed the line so you can buy one ticket and ride any train, including the Amtrak trains. He said that policy still exists.
However, the Amtrak trains only have two cars so “capacity is a challenge right now,” he added.
Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said it’s a “partnership with Amtrak” and they are aware of the issue. He said Amtrak has problems nationally with the number of rail cars they have available for service.
When more cars become available “we are on the list,” Giulietti said.
But the capacity problem is also a sign of the success of the rail service.
“Riders consistently rave about the frequency of service and conditions on board,” Giulietti said. “Even so, we continue to look for ways to improve schedules and reliability to meet the needs of our passengers.”
In a passenger satisfaction survey conducted in November, overall satisfaction on the service quality was high, with five ratings characteristics receiving a satisfaction score of at least 90%, led by the “on-board ticket collection” at 94.3%, and “courtesy of crew” at 93.5%. A strong majority of riders, 87.6%, reported being satisfied overall.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who rode the train Monday from New Haven to Hartford with Gov. Ned Lamont, said looking out the window they saw apartments being built in Wallingford and Meriden.
According to the DOT, 1,400 residential units and 242,000 square feet of commercial and office space have been constructed or are being designed along the tracks.
“This development is great for commuters,” Bysiewicz said.
Lamont said there’s nothing more important to economic development “than making sure people can get from here to there.”
He said this is the way millennials want to travel and be connected.
A mobile application for phones will be launched by the end of this year.
Giulietti said it’s being tested now and passengers will be able to purchase tickets through the phone app.
When the rail service launched last year the disability community complained about the lack of handicap accessible bathrooms.
Giulietti said the new handicap accessible bathroom cars have been purchased and will be delivered soon. There will be one on each train.