The Lamont administration this week unveiled a new plan for improved rail service in Connecticut that could cut commute times to New York City by up to 25 minutes by 2035.
Gov. Ned Lamont and state transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti released the TIME FOR CT plan, which is designed to reduce commute times starting next year.
“Our aging infrastructure is not only slowing our travels, it’s slowing our economic growth,” Lamont said.
“Nobody wants to live and work in a place where they spend hours stuck in their daily commutes. Faster trains and faster highways mean more jobs.”
The plan calls for investing between $8 billion and $10 billion on track upgrades, bridge repair and replacement, new rail cars with larger capacity and more amenities, and new signal systems that will allow trains to hit speeds up to 100 mph.
By next year, the plan is expected to cut the commute to New York’s Grand Central Station by up to 10 minutes.
'Quick, Reliable Access'
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said the plan makes sense, especially given the number of people who moved to Connecticut during the pandemic.
“The investment to improve the speed and reliability of Connecticut's rail system is a critical component of our transportation system," DiPentima said. "Particularly at a time when more workers have and are considering relocating to Connecticut but will still need to commute to New York City.
“Connecticut must capitalize on this desire for suburban and rural living while still having quick and reliable access to metropolitan areas, especially when a significant portion of the costs can come from leveraging federal transportation monies and not exclusively burden residents and businesses with higher state taxes.”
The Biden administration is planning to spend billions of dollars to improve rail systems nationwide, and the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Democrat Rosa DeLauro, is a Connecticut representative.
“This is a once-in-a-generation investment. It’s now time. We can’t go back. We don’t go back,” DeLauro said at a June 22 press conference. “Let’s look at this moment as the opportunity to build the architecture for the future.”
The plan could create an estimated 45,000 construction jobs over 15 years, Lamont said.
Before the pandemic, Metro-North's New Haven line served 40 million people a year.
Although the New Haven line is an economic engine for Connecticut, it’s been plagued in recent years by slower travel times.
Improved rail service to New York City will encourage more commuters to park their cars and ride the train, according to the plan.
Officials plan on trains operating 10 minutes faster between New Haven and New York City as early as 2022, potentially saving daily commuters up to 82 hours a year.
In addition to improved times, Lamont said the plan will:
- Use existing assets and stay within existing right-of-ways
- Reduce the impacts of climate change by getting people to leave their cars
- Improve the resiliency of the New Haven line
- Provide a new fleet for faster travel and improved passenger experience
- Improve access to education, jobs, and urban centers
- Support economic recovery from COVID with improved service
Currently, it takes 26 minutes to travel by train from New Haven to Bridgeport. By 2035, that could be cut to 20 minutes.
Bridgeport to Stamford now takes 34 minutes by train. By 2035, that will be down to 22 minutes.
And the 52 minutes it takes to travel from Stamford to New York City will be down to 45 minutes by 2035, according to the plan.
“Faster trains and faster highways mean more jobs,” Lamont said. “The actionable items we put in TIME FOR CT will make these needed improvements a reality.”