The NHHS rail corridor is owned by Amtrak. As owner and operator, much of the construction-related work to upgrade the rail line will be overseen by Amtrak. Amtrak has a website that lists open positions. That website can be reached at the following address. https://careers.amtrak.com/irj/portal/anonymous
Amtrak and CTDOT will also be hiring private contractors to construct the track bed, bridges, drainage structures, and stations. Most of this work will be awarded between 2013 and 2015. Continue to monitor this website for announcements regarding the award of contracts so you can contact the successful bidder directly.
Based on the US Department of Transportation methodology,the planned investment of some $650 million in the NHHS rail program is projected to create over 11,000 construction jobs. Once the new rail system is up and running, about 110 new employees will be required to operate and maintain the new Amtrak and Connecticut-supported train services. The vast majority of these are new jobs, helping to support the state's construction businesses. In addition, faster, more frequent and enhanced train service to Connecticut communities is expected to support additional employment in Connecticut and make travel to work more convenient.
All improvements included within the NHHS rail program will meet both the letter and spirit of the Americans With Disabilities Act and other accessibility requirements. Enhanced accessibility assists not only those with disabilities, but any passenger with luggage or pushing a stroller.
The current schedule calls for start-up of new service in 2016, five years from now. While it took Amtrak just four months to remove the track two decades ago, restoration of the track is unfortunately a timely and expensive proposition. The NHHS project calls for restoration of the track, installation of a new signal system as well as Positive Train Control, upgrade of all the public crossings, right-of-way embankment stabilization and drainage improvements, relocation of utilities that have been installed since the track was removed, and significant station improvements, including high-level platforms and additional parking. Securing the necessary environmental permits alone is projected to take well over two years. Procurement of signal equipment also has as much as a two-year lead time. Our goal is to complete the project as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.
Amtrak owns the entire 62-mile rail line. At the south end, it connects to the Connecticut-owned New Haven line south/west to Greenwich and to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor north/east to Boston. At Springfield, the line continues north on the Connecticut River line to Vermont on track owned by the Pam Am Railway and to the east (towards Boston) and west (towards Albany) on the CSX railroad.
Amtrak currently operates six round trip trains over the NHHS corridor. One provides direct service to and from Springfield and points south of New Haven (NY and WAS). Four roundtrip trains shuttle between Springfield and New Haven, where the trains meet Acela Northeast Corridor trains to Boston and New York. The additional roundtrip train is the Vermonter, which operates from Washington to St. Albans, VT.
In addition, several freight railroads operate periodic service to shippers located along the NHHS line. There is one daily freight train operated by Connecticut Southern Railroad.
In cooperation with Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration, Connecticut is planning for a very significant increase in passenger rail service on the NHHS corridor.The current vision calls for expanding the number of passenger trains from the current six daily roundtrip trains to as many as 25 daily roundtrip trains. This would include a mix of Amtrak Acela trains, Amtrak NHHS shuttle trains, new Connecticut Regional/Commuter trains, and additional Amtrak trains serving Vermont (the Vermonter and "Knowledge Corridor" trains between Springfield and White River Junction) and Massachusetts (via the Springfield-Boston Inland Route). The follow chart summarizes the service expansion plan:
|New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Service||Round-Trip Train Frequencies
|Round-Trip Train Frequencies
|White River Junction/Bellow Falls/Greengield-New Haven||0||5|
NHHS Regional/Commuter rail fares have not yet been established. As reference, however, the current fare between Old Saybrook and New Haven on Connecticut’s Shore Line East commuter rail line is $5.75 per trip and $121 for a monthly pass. The unrestricted one-way Amtrak fare between Hartford and New York ranges from $52 to $70.Importantly, Connecticut and Amtrak expect to develop a policy under which the cheaper commuter rail fares will be accepted on both NHHS Regional/Commuter trains and Amtrak trains for travel between NHHS stations. In this way, passengers traveling between New Haven and Springfield can pay the lowest fare on whatever train comes next while at a station.
Implementing the significant increase in service will require a substantial upgrade of the existing tracks and railroad infrastructure. This work includes the following:
The current estimated cost for the work required to launch the service is $647 million. This estimate does not include future enhancements to the service such as new train equipment and future stations, listed above. Additional funding will also be required for future repairs to some of the aging infrastructure along the line such as the Hartford Viaduct or the Connecticut River Bridge in Windsor Locks.To date, the Federal government has awarded Connecticut $161 million for the NHHS program; Connecticut also has allocated $280 million in bond funding for this work. Connecticut is applying for some $227 million in federal funding to complete phase 3 of the construction work.
Upgrades to the infrastructure must be phased to match the Federal and state funding available for the work. Current plans call for completion of engineering design work related to the double-tracking and related stations and crossings work in 2012. Construction work must be coordinated with Amtrak, the owner of the rail line. Amtrak forces are expected to perform much of the track work. This is scheduled to take place between 2013 and 2015. Initial start-up service is planned to begin by 2016.
A key "next step" is completion of the environmental assessment of the improvements and new service, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and under state law. This is currently underway. A draft Environmental Assessment (EA) is planned for completion by the end of 2011. No construction work can begin on corridor-wide improvements until the environmental review is done.
The NHHS corridor includes 38 public at-grade crossings. The safety system at each of these crossings will be upgraded as the railroad expands from one track to two tracks. The current plan calls for closure of two crossings near Hartford – Flatbush Avenue and Flowers Street as part of the new Britain-Hartford Busway program. The remaining crossings will be upgraded either with four (quad) gates or with two gates and a long solid median divider. Both approaches are intended to prevent motorists from attempting to go around the gates as a train approaches.
Trains are required under Federal law to sound their horns four times before and while passing through a siding (two long whistles, a short and a final long). Increasing the number of trains generally means increasing the number of whistles. However, by upgrading the crossings with quad gates or median dividers, the NHHS crossings will meet the physical requirements for a Federally designated “Quiet Zone.” In a Quiet Zone, the engineer is no longer required to sound the train horn. Under Federal law, municipalities can seek Quiet Zone designation for crossings with such “supplemental safety devices.” The process for securing the Quiet Zone designation includes a locally funded, detailed analysis of the risk of accidents at the crossing and the ability of the supplemental safety devices to prevent those accidents.The impact of increased noise from train horns will be analyzed as part of the NEPA environmental assessment. The ability of Quiet Zones to reduce noise also will be considered in the study.
With double tracking, new platforms will be required on both sides of the tracks at each station. These will be built at the same height as the floors of the trains, so as to provide level boarding, and connected by a pedestrian bridge over the tracks, complete with stairs and an elevator for easy access.
Other station enhancements, such as additional parking, will be included as required and as developed with each town. Several stations may require relocation or other more significant upgrades based on alignment or the development objectives of the towns. In the future, four new commuter rail stations are planned at North Haven, Newington, West Hartford and Enfield. The current high speed grants do not include funding to design or construct these four stations.
One of the primary objectives of the NHHS program is to serve as a catalyst for new transit-oriented development around the stations. While this effort must be led by the individual towns, CTDOT intends to proactively assist in leveraging the investment in railroad infrastructure to gain the maximum local development impact.
Upgrade of the rail line will facilitate a significant increase in speeds and reduction in travel time between NHHS stations and farther destinations on the Northeast Corridor or North of Springfield. The following table provides some representative travel time improvements:
|Station||Best Amtrak Trip to NYP
(Serving all Amtrak stations)
2010 (Train 141)
|Best Amtrak Trip to NYP
(Serving all Amtrak stations)
2030 (Train 141)
|White River Junction VT||7:36||5:32|
Increased passenger rail service on the NHHS corridor will provide important transportation, economic development and environmental benefits. Most importantly, it will provide travelers with a fast, safe and reliable public transportation alternative to the congestion that plagues our roads during rush hour each day and to the steadily increasing price of gasoline.
The NHHS program will provide the following benefits:
New Jobs During Construction
Catalyst for Transit-Orient Development (TOD) at Stations
Details and project updates can be found on this website. You can sign up for project emails and notices on this website. In addition, CTDOT intends to hold periodic public meetings and project briefings. Separate meetings will be held in the towns for specific issues relating to stations at at-grade crossings.
Connecticut received less money than it asked for from the Federal government. Why? What does this mean in terms of what can be built? Will this delay the project and the service? And what about the amount of intercity, commuter and freight service that will be able to operate compared to what we are expecting?
Competition for Federal high-speed rail funding over the past two years has been intense – more than $125 billion in requests by states for the $10.5 billion available. Connecticut requested a total of $260 million from the Federal government in 2009 and 2010 and has been awarded $160 million of this amount. Nearly all states awarded funding to date have received less than requested. Connecticut is seeking additional funding in 2011 to support the full NHHS program.
Because Connecticut received less funding than requested, it will be necessary to phase both the double-tracking and other infrastructure and station improvements planned for the NHHS corridor and the implementation of new service. The initial phase of service under this plan will include sufficient double-tracking and infrastructure upgrades to permit the addition of rail service during the peak rush-hour periods in the morning and evening, when demand is the greatest. With additional federal funding, the remainder of the infrastructure improvements can be constructed. This will enable the NHHS rail line to handle all Amtrak and commuter rail service planned through 2030.
The new service is scheduled to begin by 2016.
Just like Connecticut-supported commuter rail service on the New Haven line and Shore Line East service to New London, state operating assistance will be required to support new NHHS commuter rail service. Initially, fare-box revenues likely will cover around 20% of the cost of operating the trains, similar to Shore Line East. However, ridership is expected to build quickly along the corridor. With the increase in ridership the fare-box revenues should cover approximately 65% of the cost of operating the trains, which is similar to the percentage on the Metro-North New Haven Line.Some of the operating costs will be associated with recent changes in Federal law requiring states to fund certain costs associated with Amtrak short-distance service. These costs would apply even if rail service is not expanded. The enhancements proposed by this project will insure that Connecticut sees the maximum return on the investment that the law requires.
Current planning calls for improvements at the Windsor Locks train station to permit an airport shuttle bus to meet the train for transfer to the airport, much as airport shuttles pick up passengers at remote parking lots, hotels and rental car agencies. There is no near-term plan for a direct train connection to the airport.
Connecticut has sought improved rail service between New Haven and Hartford for decades. Not only can train service reduce congestion during peak rush-hour periods on the region’s highways, it can provide a safe, reliable and environmentally superior public transportation alternative for those traveling in the corridor or commuting to and from locations along the Northeast Corridor rail line. Importantly, increased service can also serve as an economic engine and catalyst for new development in station areas and in communities served by the rail line.
The original commuter rail implementation study proposed adding commuter trains that would be separate and in addition to the Amtrak intercity service. However, with the inception of the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program, Connecticut gained an opportunity to enter in to a partnership with Amtrak to secure federal funding to develop a more efficient and integrated service that allows passengers to board either an Amtrak Intercity or Connecticut Regional train and pay either the commuter or intercity fare based on their destination. Just as with operating costs, recent federal legislation requires states to fund the capital costs associated with the maintenance of Amtrak short-distance service. Since these costs would apply even if rail service is not expanded, the enhancements proposed b this project will insure that Connecticut sees the maximum return on the investment that the law requires.
As owner of the NHHS rail corridor, Amtrak currently operates the existing intercity service between New Haven and Springfield and to Vermont and Boston.
An important component of the NHHS program is introduction of new regional service on the NHHS to supplement existing and planned Amtrak service. This will permit peak rush-hour train service every 30 minutes along the NHHS line. Under Connecticut law, the operation of any new rail service must be competitively bid. Metro North operates Connecticut trains on the New Haven line; Amtrak operates the Shore Line East trains to New London. Both would be candidates for bidding on the NHHS service to Hartford and Springfield. Other operators may seek to compete for the service as well. The bidding process likely would not begin until the planning and design of the NHHS infrastructure is completed and construction initiated.
The initial budget for the NHHS program totals $647 million. This estimate includes all the work necessary to establish 30 minute peak hour, and hourly off-peak service between New Haven and Springfield. However, this total amount does not address several important items for which Connecticut intends to seek additional Federal funding. These include:
Train equipment: current plans call for using existing Shore Line East (SLE) trains on the NHHS once SLE acquires new M8 electric trains currently in production. While transferring this equipment to the NHHS provides easy access to existing train equipment and expedites the start-up of NHHS service, Connecticut hopes to introduce new state-of-the-art train equipment on the corridor to enhance ridership and comfort.
Aging Infrastructure: both the Hartford Station viaduct and the Connecticut River Bridge at Windsor Locks will need replacement over the next 25 years due to age and in order to expand service on the NHHS corridor. Amtrak owns these facilities.
Electrification: No funding has been sought or included for electrification of the NHHS corridor. Long-term plans for the NHHS may include the option of electrifying the rail line. This would provide for faster direct service for Amtrak trains heading to New York and the possibility of direct commuter rail service to Grand Central Station. However, the trip time benefits for trains simply shuttling between Springfield and New Haven are small. Because electrification is a significant expense, considerable analysis will be required before a decision regarding electrification is made.
Long-term plans for the NHHS include the option of electrifying the rail line. This would provide for faster direct service for Amtrak trains heading to New York and the possibility of direct commuter rail service to Grand Central Station. However, the trip time benefits for trains simply shuttling between Springfield and New Haven are small. Because electrification is a significant expense, considerable analysis will be required before a decision regarding electrification is made.
Current plans call for using existing Shore Line East (SLE) trains on the NHHS once SLE acquires new M8 electric trains currently in production. The SLE trains operate using a diesel-powered locomotive and three-four coaches. While transferring this equipment to the NHHS provides easy access to existing train equipment and expedites the start-up of NHHS service, Connecticut will ultimately have to replace this equipment and hopes to introduce new state-of-the-art train equipment on the corridor to enhance ridership and comfort. Federal funding, either through the FRA and the FTA, will be sought for this purpose.
Passengers seeking to travel from NHHS stations to New York Penn Station currently must use Amtrak trains (either with one-seat service through New Haven or by transferring to a Northeast Corridor train at New Haven). Connecticut-funded commuter trains operated by Metro North currently serve New York’s Grand Central Station. Access to Penn Station will be easier in the future. With additional Amtrak and commuter rail service on the NHHS, there will be greater access to more Amtrak trains at New Haven either serving Penn Station directly or by transfer to a Northeast Corridor train. In addition, there have been continuing discussions between Metro North and Amtrak about track-sharing options that would provide some Amtrak trains to serve Grand Central Station and some Metro North trains to serve Penn Station.
The integrated plan proposed for this corridor affords Connecticut residents the benefits of increased train service even if that service originates in Vermont, Montreal, or Boston. With full implementation of the service plan, a passenger traveling from Meriden to New Haven may board a train that originated in St. Albans, Vermont or Montreal, Canada and still pay only the commuter fare.
Recent changes in federal law requires that states fund a portion of the operating costs and maintenance costs associated with Amtrak short-distance service. Therefore, Vermont and Massachusetts will be contributing to the increased service in the same manner that Connecticut does.