Hartford Line Commuter Rail Launch Pushed Back Again — and Probably Not for the Last Time

Image: Joseph Cutrufo/TSTC

The Hartford Line, a forthcoming commuter rail service connecting New Haven, Hartford and Springfield (MA), finally has an operator and — once again — a new launch date. Governor Dan Malloy announced yesterday that a joint venture of TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts beat out Amtrak and three other bidders to provide service on the line.

In a press release, Governor Malloy said the state is “getting closer each day” to launching the new commuter rail service, but that’s not entirely true. Of course, he’s correct in the sense that the earth continues its orbit around the sun in the same direction as always. But he’s wrong in the sense that the launch date for the Hartford Line, now scheduled for May of 2018, keeps getting pushed farther away. We’re no closer to the Hartford Line’s launch today than we thought we were a few months ago, back when it was still scheduled for January of 2018.

The Hartford Line’s launch date has been pushed back at least three times since 2012. Here’s how the schedule on the project’s website has changed over the course of the last few years:

September 2012

  • Complete Construction: end of 2015
  • Launch New Service: 2016

November 2015

  • Complete construction/launch service: late 2016

June 2017

  • Complete construction/launch service: January 2018

July 2017

  • Complete track construction from New Haven to Windsor: April 2018
  • Launch service: May 2018

In addition, State funding has been allocated to advance the following design efforts, which are currently underway:

  • Track infrastructure and improvements from Windsor to Springfield: 2020
  • New stations in North Haven, Newington, West Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Enfield: 2020

And depending on what the next two-year state budget looks like, there may be reason to believe we haven’t seen the last schedule change. Revenue plans put forth by both Democrats and Republicans would limit the state’s bonding authority, which could jeopardize federal funding and force ConnDOT to make some painful cuts. So not only are we looking at an insolvent Special Transportation Fund (it’s estimated to dry up in fiscal year 2020), but possibly another postponement on the Hartford Line.

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