AASHTO Journal

Connecticut DOT Taps Joint Venture Partners to Run Hartford Line Passenger Rail Service

Gov. Dannel Malloy recently announced that Connecticut will use joint-venture partners TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts to operate the coming commuter rail service, now under construction, that will run between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, Conn. 

The CTrail Hartford Line, which is expected to launch in May 2018, will act as a regional link with connections to existing rail services including Metro-North, Shoreline East and Amtrak's Acela high-speed rail services on both the New Haven Line to New York and on the Northeast Corridor to New London and Boston. There will also be direct bus connections to the Bradley Airport Flyer and to CTfastrak.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation said in a news release that it "conducted a thorough service-provider bidding process and cost-benefit analysis for the Hartford Line program" before selecting TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts, "which are forming a joint venture solely for the purpose of serving the Hartford Line."

The joint venture partners entered into a $45 million contract with the CTDOT for five years, the agency said, plus about 10 months of "preliminary mobilization work that is required to prepare for the launch of the service. As the Hartford Line service provider, TASI/ACI will be responsible for operating trains, maintaining stations and parking facilities, and performing various customer service functions."

capitol0816.jpgThe CT Mirror reported that the TASI/ACI bid to operate the Hartford Line won out over proposals from Amtrak, Bombardier, Keolis Rail Services America and First Transit.

Amtrak will remain responsible for maintenance of the railroad infrastructure, the state agency said, "including track signals, train dispatching and right-of-way security. Amtrak's existing service will not be altered by Hartford Line service. CTrail trains will operate together with Amtrak trains on the rail line to provide seamless Hartford Line service."

The CTDOT said that when service begins, the line will more than double the daily round trips now offered in the corridor, "providing more frequent, convenient, and faster rail service to those living, working, and traveling through central Connecticut."

With the Hartford Line, a total of 17 roundtrip trains between New Haven and Hartford will operate each weekday, with 12 of those trains continuing to Springfield. On weekends, a total of 13 roundtrip trains will operate between New Haven and Hartford, with nine trains continuing to Springfield.

Said Malloy: "We are getting closer each day to launching commuter rail service between New Haven, Hartford and our friends in Springfield – a service that we've needed in the central Connecticut area for decades and will finally allow an option to move people, goods and services with greater ease. Creating the Hartford Line is just one part of our efforts toward building a best-in-class transportation system for Connecticut residents that drives growth, attracts businesses and stimulates job creation, all while improving the overall quality of life for our residents."

CTDOT Commissioner James Redeker said that "with modern stations, new amenities and faster and more frequent trains, our goal is to not only expand travel options and link communities and markets along the corridor and beyond but do so while enhancing passenger experience and providing high-quality customer service."

Redeker added: "We have a good partner in Amtrak, and are looking forward to adding a new partner to the mix who has a substantial background in providing national and international rail service operations, including extensive experience with new service startups."

Together, TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts already serve about 57 million U.S. riders and provide 318,000 rail trips annually. They have provided services compliant to Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration requirements for 20 rail clients, the CTDOT said, including 11 new train service startups. 

Their experience includes commuter rail contracts in San Francisco, Santa Fe, Denver, Boston and New Jersey, as well as light rail, heavy rail and streetcar contracts throughout the country.

"The Joint Venture of TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts has the experience and background necessary to deliver passenger rail services that are equal to the nation's best," said Scott Perry, TASI/ACI president. "We look forward to working with our partners at CTDOT and Amtrak to ensure a seamless launch and provide the more frequent, convenient and faster rail service that riders in this corridor want and deserve."

Michael DeCataldo, Amtrak's eastern region vice president of operations, said: "Amtrak looks forward to working with CTDOT's new commuter service provider as we continue to operate the state's intercity services on Amtrak's New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Line. We're thankful for the partnership between CTDOT, Amtrak and the FRA that has allowed Amtrak forces to make great progress rebuilding and expanding this line in anticipation of a successful launch of this new service."

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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