Tuesday, April 08, 2014

CDOT readies RFP for New Haven-Springfield line

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Connecticut's Department of Transportation (CDOT) will solicit proposals for an operator for Amtrak's New Haven-Hartford-Springfield route beginning in 2016, according to Gov. Dannel Malloy. The RFP will be issued within the next year.

Potential operator candidates include Amtrak and Metro-North Railroad. Also likely to seek the business are contracting companies such as Keolis Commuter Services Inc., which last month landed a long-term contract with Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and Veolia Transportation.

"As the gateway to New England, the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail program will also facilitate improved service to Massachusetts, Vermont and eventually Montreal," said Malloy in a statement. "New train service will connect communities, generate sustainable economic growth, help build energy independence, and provide links to travel corridors and markets within and beyond the region.”

The New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail Program is designed to bolster regional passenger rail service options, according to CDOT officials. NHHS rail service will operate at speeds up to 110 mph, cutting travel time between Springfield and New Haven.

In an April 1 letter to Amtrak President Joseph Boardman, CDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker noted the RFP will be open to all, but added, “We appreciate the long-standing favorable relationship the Department and Amtrak enjoy, and we encourage Amtrak to pursue this new opportunity with us.”

Redeker noted, “We currently plan to use our locomotives and coaches from the Shore Line East (SLE) service for the expanded Hartford Line services. Amtrak maintains this equipment under the SLE Agreement, and we anticipate continuing Amtrak mechanical services until the M-8 Equipment is deployed on the Shore Line.” Shore Line East primarily serves Connecticut communities between Old Saybrook and New Haven, traversing Amtrak's Northeast Corridor.

CDOT also expects Amtrak to continue providing its existing service levels on the New Haven-Springfield route.

The New Haven-Springfield route, also called the “Knowledge Corridor,” is also being eyed for possible resumption of long-distance service linking New York and Montreal, once provided by Amtrak’s Montrealer, discontinued in 1995. The Knowledge Corridor moniker was applied by, among others, the Hartford-Springfield Economic Partnership.