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.
The planned investment in the NHHS Rail Program is projected to create over 4,500 construction related jobs and over 8,000 total jobs (direct and in-direct).
Once the new rail system is up and running, over 100 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 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 January 2018. While it took Amtrak just four months to remove the track two decades ago, reinstallation of the second track is a slow and expensive process. In addition to the reinstallation of the second track the NHHS Rail Program plans include installation of a new signal system, upgrades to all the public at-grade 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, elevators, pedestrian overpasses and additional parking. Our goal is to complete the Program 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 on weekdays. One provides direct service to and from Springfield, MA and points south of New Haven (NY and Washington, D.C.). The Vermonter, also provides direct service from Washington, DC to St. Albans, VT. Four roundtrip "shuttle trains" operate between Springfield and New Haven, and provide connections with Northeast Corridor trains operating between to Boston, New York and Washington, DC. On weekends, Amtrak operates one additional direct round trip regional train between Springfield and Washington, DC.
In addition, several freight railroads provide service to businesses located along the NHHS line. There are several daily freight trains operated by Connecticut Southern Railroad. Pan Am Southern also operates freight trains several times a week between Springfield, MA and Berlin, CT.
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 weekday 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 following chart summarizes the service expansion plan:
NHHS Regional rail fares have not yet been established. As a reference, however, the current fare between Old Saybrook and New Haven on Connecticut's Shore Line East commuter rail line is $6.75 per trip and $141 for a monthly pass. The unrestricted one-way Amtrak fare between Hartford and New York ranges from $30 to $81.
Implementing the significant increase in service will require a substantial upgrade of the existing tracks and railroad infrastructure. This initial work includes the following:
23 miles of additional double track on existing single track sections
2 miles of new passing sidings
5 new interlockings (so trains can change tracks)
Signaling and control systems (including Amtrak provided Positive Train Control)
Repair, rehabilitation and replacement of bridges and culverts as necessary
Improvements at highway/railroad grade crossings
High-level platforms, elevators, pedestrian overpasses, parking, and other amenities at the existing Wallingford, Meriden and Berlin stations
1 high-level platform at Hartford Union Station
The NHHS Rail Program consists of multiple state and federally funding components. The total project budget is currently $569 million.
Connecticut intends to seek additional funding from the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Transit Administration for future phases of the Program, which include the following improvements to the NHHS rail line:
Adding the second track between Windsor and Springfield, MA
New train equipment
Future regional service stations at North Haven, Newington, West Hartford and Enfield
Long-term improvements to the Hartford Viaduct and the Connecticut River Bridge in Windsor Locks
High-level platforms, pedestrian overpasses, parking, and other amenities at Windsor and Windsor Locks
The NHHS Rail Service will be launched in January 2018 with the funding that has already been awarded.
Upgrades to the infrastructure must be phased to match the federal and state funding available for the work. The completion of the engineering design work related to the double-tracking, signal, crossing and station upgrades has been completed. Construction must be coordinated with Amtrak, the owner of the rail line. Amtrak internal and vendor forces will perform the track work and is estimated to be completed by late 2017.
Under federal law, trains are required to sound their horns before and while passing through an at-grade crossing (two long whistles, a short and a final long). Increasing the number of trains generally means increasing the number of whistles.
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 NHHS corridor includes 38 public at-grade crossings. The safety systems at each of the crossings within the funded portion of the Program were evaluated and will be upgraded as needed. A number of crossings will be upgraded either with four quadrant gates or with two quadrant gates and a median barrier. Both approaches are intended to prevent motorists from attempting to bypass the gates as a train approaches the crossing.
The impact of increased noise from train horns was analyzed as part of the federally required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental assessment. This assessment identified several locations near grade-crossings deemed to be a sensitive noise receptor. To mitigate the effect of increased train horns at these sensitive receptors, the Program is implementing wayside horns at certain grade-crossings. Wayside horns replace the locomotive train horn. By directing the audible warning at the crossing roadways, wayside horns reduce noise levels along the rail corridor and therefore reduce noise in the vicinity of these sensitive receptors. For more information on Wayside Horns visit the Glossary of Terms section of the website.
With double tracking, new platforms will be provided on both sides of the tracks at each station, except for Hartford Union Station. These will be built at the same height as the floors of the trains, to provide level boarding, and be connected by a pedestrian bridge over the tracks, complete with stairs and an elevator for easy access.
Other station enhancements include:
Ticket Vending Machines
Safety and security upgrades
Real time passenger information display systems
One of the primary objectives of the Program is to serve as a catalyst for new transit-oriented development around the stations. While this effort must be led by the individual municipalities, 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:
Best Amtrak Trip to NYP (Serving all Amtrak stations) 2015 (Train 141)
Best Amtrak Trip to NYP (Serving all Amtrak stations) 2030 (Train 141)
Increased passenger rail service on the NHHS corridor will provide increased transportation options, economic development and environmental benefits. Most importantly, it will provide travelers with a fast, safe and reliable public transportation alternative to the congestion that impacts our roads during rush hour each day and to the steadily increasing price of gasoline.
The NHHS Program will provide the following long-term benefits:
Ridership: 1.26 million new annual trips by 2030
Service to both Grand Central Terminal and to Penn Station New York
Direct bus connection from the NHHS to Bradley International Airport
Car trips diverted to rail: 1.15 million by 2030
Connection to the CTfastrak corridor
Connection to the CTfastrak corridor
The planned investment in the NHHS Rail Program is projected to create over 4,500 construction related jobs and over 8,000 total jobs (direct and in-direct).
Over 3.5 million gallons/year of fuel saved (over 100 million fewer vehicle miles at estimated 31 mpg by 2030)
Over 25,000 metric tons less carbon/year
Catalyst for Transit-Orient Development (TOD) at Stations
Details and NHHS Rail Program updates can be found on this website, where you can also sign up for Program emails and notices. In addition, CTDOT holds periodic public meetings and Program briefings.
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 Program 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?
Connecticut requested a total of $260 million from the federal government in 2009 and 2010 and was awarded $160 million of this amount. Nearly all states awarded funding under the HSR program received less than requested. Connecticut will seek additional funding from the FRA and FTA in the future to support the full 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 2018 phase of service under this plan will include sufficient double-tracking and infrastructure upgrades from New Haven to Hartford to permit 17 daily round trip trains, with 12 round trip trains continuing to Springfield, MA. 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 regional rail service planned through 2030.
Just like Connecticut-supported intercity and 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 rail service.
Current planning calls for improvements at the Windsor Locks train station to permit a shuttle bus to meet the train for transfer to and from 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 passenger service between New Haven and Hartford for decades. Not only can this service reduce congestion during peak-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 Line. Importantly, increased service can also serve as an economic engine and catalyst for new development near station areas and in communities served by the rail line.
The 2012-2016 Connecticut State Rail Plan proposed adding commuter trains 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. 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 by the NHHS Rail Program will ensure 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 under agreement with the States of Connecticut and Massachusetts.
An important component of the NHHS Rail Program is the introduction of new regional service on the NHHS line to supplement existing and planned Amtrak service. This will permit peak-hour train service every 30 minutes along the NHHS line once the Hartford Line launches in January 2018. Under Connecticut law, the operation of any new rail passenger service must be competitively bid. Metro-North Railroad operates Connecticut trains on the New Haven line; Amtrak operates the Shore Line East trains between New Haven and New London. Both would be candidates for bidding on the new Hartford Line service to Hartford and Springfield. Other operators may seek to compete for the service as well. A Request for Qualifications was issued in January 2015 and the Request for Proposals is expected to be issued to qualified shortlisted firms in early 2016.
It is estimated that an additional $400 million would be required to complete all the work necessary to establish 30 minute peak hour, and hourly off-peak service between New Haven and Springfield. The additional funds would accomplish:
Double tracking from Windsor, CT to Springfield, MA.
Improvements to the existing Windsor and Windsor Locks stations
New stations in Enfield, West Hartford, Newington and North Haven
New state-of-the-art train equipment along the corridor
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) diesel trains for the new Hartford Line service once new M8 electric trains are certified for operation on the SLE route and overhead electric wires are placed over station tracks at Old Saybrook and Guilford.
Aging Infrastructure: both the Hartford Station viaduct and the Connecticut River Bridge at Windsor Locks will need replacement 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 Rail Program 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 rail service to Grand Central Station Terminal. However, the trip time benefits for trains shuttling between Springfield and New Haven are small. Because electrification is a significant expense and may have environmental impacts, considerable analysis will be required before a decision regarding electrification is made.
Current plans call for using existing Shore Line East (SLE) trains for the new Hartford Line service 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 Rail Program provides easy access to existing train equipment and expedites the start-up of NHHS Rail 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.
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 Railroad (MNR) currently serve New York’s Grand Central Terminal. 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 MNR and Amtrak about track-sharing options that would allow some MNR 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.
Changes in Federal law require that states fund a portion of the operating costs and maintenance costs associated with Amtrak short-distance intercity passenger rail service not operating on the Northeast Corridor. Therefore, Vermont and Massachusetts are contributing to the increased service in the same manner that Connecticut does.
While conceptual design has progressed on the new Hartford Line stations in North Haven, Newington, West Hartford and Enfield and to the two existing stations in Windsor and Windsor Locks, the schedule to complete design has not been finalized. The CTDOT continues to seek opportunities to secure Federal funds for construction of the these stations.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) conducted an Alternatives Analysis (AA) for the future of the aging Hartford rail viaduct. The viaduct is an elevated structure adjacent to Hartford's historic Union Station that currently carries both freight and Amtrak intercity passenger trains.
This AA developed and evaluated options to maintain, reconstruct, or relocate the rail corridor in this area (track and station), and will help guide the decision-making process toward selection of a locally preferred alternative.
The AA was completed in collaboration with the I-84 Hartford Project, a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sponsored CTDOT project to address structural and operational deficiencies within the I-84 corridor approximately between Flatbush Avenue and the I-91 interchange in Hartford. Options being considered for that planning effort include replacing or reconfiguring the highway and its interchanges within the corridor.
It is critical that the development and evaluation of rail corridor alternatives be conducted in coordination with the analysis of highway alternatives, and vice versa, as the two facilities cross each other twice, and each has the ability to impact the other.
In 2013, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded a grant to the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) to evaluate the benefits, costs, timing, and impacts of relocation or reconstruction of the rail corridor through Hartford.
Amtrak is the owner of the rail line and routinely inspects the condition of the line. These inspections confirm that the structure is safe for existing passenger and freight train use. However, the rail viaduct requires constant and expensive maintenance and the associated cost of maintenance will continue to increase, particularly with planned growth in rail traffic across the viaduct. Therefore, viaduct replacement alternatives were considered in this study.
Options for relocating the rail viaduct would require a new location for rail platforms and associated passenger amenities. However, since any alternative rail alignments will still be within the same general corridor that also includes I-84, it is anticipated that a relocated station would be about a five minute walk from the current location.
Recognizing the importance of the train station as a multimodal hub, CTfastrak will continue to serve the station, regardless of where it is located. Specific CTfastrak connections to the train station are being evaluated to define the most efficient multimodal transportation solution.
All of the rail options – whether maintenance, reconstruction, or relocation –require coordination with the Iâ€84 Hartford project. Based on this assessment, none of the rail reconstruction or relocation options can be constructed in such a way to be fully completed and “out of the way” of the highway project without causing significant impacts to the highway as well as the local street network during the course of construction.
Based on the results of this evaluation, and setting the stage for further coordination with the Iâ€84 Hartford Project, the focus moving forward will likely be on options that relocate the rail alignment north of Iâ€84.
The findings and conclusions of this study establish the case for focusing on a smaller set of options that relocate the rail alignment north of I-84 This subset of rail options will be more fully detailed as part of an integrated approach that also includes highway options being considered as part of the I-84 Hartford Project.