Faster trains coming to CT, thanks to $2 billion from Washington

Travel by train could get a lot faster in the next few years – thanks to $2 billion headed to Connecticut from Washington.

John Craven

Nov 20, 2023, 11:41 PM

Updated 147 days ago

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Millions of people are traveling this Thanksgiving week. If you're taking the train, the trip could get a lot faster in the next few years – thanks to $2 billion headed to Connecticut from Washington.

RAIL SLOWDOWNS

If the trip over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house takes you on the train, you'd better pack some patience.
"Sometimes there's a lot of delays, but usually it's fair," said Bethany de los Santos, of Bridgeport.
Many of those delays are because of aging rail bridges – like the Devon bridge in Milford, built 117 years ago. It's so old that trains have to slow down to 45 miles per hour to cross it safely.
"Some days it'll be delays," said Najee Gathers, of Milford. "You'll have to wait, like, 20 minutes for my train to come."

FASTER TRAINS COMING

It won't happen this Thanksgiving, or even this decade, but 8 rail bridges across Connecticut will get replaced. It's all thanks to almost $2 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
"They'll be able to speed up going across this bridge from 45 to 75 miles an hour, taking about two or three minutes off the commute," said Gov. Ned Lamont. "And we've got eight of these other bridges. That's going to be 20 minutes' savings."
In addition to the Devon bridge, Metro-North's New Haven Line will get $210 million in upgrades, including new tracks and power stations. In Norwalk, almost half a billion dollars is going to replace the Walk Bridge, which sometimes gets stuck, snarling Amtrak traffic across the Northeast. And in Westport, the Saugatuck Bridge is getting $23 million.
"Within the next 10 years, with this investment, we will be able to move people from Bridgeport to New York City 20 minutes faster," said Sen. Chris Murphy.
But some slowdowns happen outside of Connecticut – in New York.
“There are investments in the state of New York that are necessary to be able to make the New Haven Line more resilient,” said Metro-North president Catherine Rinaldi. "We have flooding issues in the Bronx that affect the reliability of the service that we provide to our New Haven Line customers.”
In addition to Connecticut, the feds are sending New York $1.6 billion for Metro-North upgrades, including a new destination at Penn Station and new stops in the Bronx.
But riders said any improvement will encourage them to ride more often. Good news, since ridership is still struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels.
"That's a lot better," said Gathers.
The Devon Rail Bridge won't be replaced until the year 2035, but repairs will be done in just three years, which could mean a faster commute for many riders.


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