CTrail Hartford Line, also known as New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail project, is a  passenger rail service between New Haven, Connecticut, and Springfield, Massachusetts, in New England, US.

Construction on the project began in 2015 and services commenced in June 2018.

A joint venture between TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts will operate and manage the CTrail Hartford Line service for a period of five years starting from June 2018, under a $45m contract with the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

The 100km-long rail line facilitates faster, frequent and bi-directional commuter transportation between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield.

The project is a joint effort between the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, the Federal Railroad Administration, and Amtrak.

Hartford Line development details

Hartford Line provides a reliable regional passenger rail service using the existing Amtrak New Haven-Springfield Line and Hartford Line trains.

The new line  creates connections to Amtrak-operated Acela high-speed rail and Metro-North train service operating on the New Haven Line to New York, and Shore Line East service on the Northeast Corridor to New London and Boston.

It  also facilitates direct or connecting services from stations along the Hartford Line route to Vermont.

Additionally, the service allows passengers to connect with an express bus line that runs from Hartford to Bradley International Airport.

Design and construction

The environmental assessment of the Hartford Line project was completed in January 2012, while the design was finalised in October 2014.

The project involved the construction of a second track parallel to the single-track sections of the New Haven-Springfield Line between New Haven and Windsor. It also included modernisation of 180 bridges and culverts to incorporate double tracking.

Up to 38 at‐grade crossings along the New Haven-Springfield rail corridor were upgraded to improve safety.

Work also included upgrade of the track and signalling systems, improvement of existing stations, as well as construction of new stations.

Hartford Line route and station details

The Hartford Line passenger service currently includes New Haven Union Station, New Haven State Street Station, Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford Union Station, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Springfield stations.

“The service reduces travel time between Springfield and New Haven by 81 minutes.”

New railway stations at North Haven, Newington, West Hartford, and Enfield are expected to be available for service by 2022.

The stations will feature overhead pedestrian bridges, parking lots, automatic snowmelt systems, high-level platforms, passenger information display systems, loop bicycle racks, ticket vending machines, and electronic vehicle charging stations

Rolling stock details

The Hartford Line commuter rail corridor initially uses 17 high-speed roundtrip trains between New Haven and Hartford on weekdays, with 12 of them continuing to Springfield. A total of 13 roundtrips are operated between New Haven and Hartford on weekends, with extending to Springfield.

Trains  travel with 45-minute headway in peak hours and 90-minute headway during the off-peak period. The service reduces the travel time between Springfield and New Haven by 81 minutes.

The railway line will utilise a total of 25 roundtrip trains with 30-minute peak and 60-minute off-peak service when fully operational by 2030.

Trains run at speeds ranging between 128km/h and 177km/h.

Financing

State and federal authorities provided $769.1m of support towards the estimated $1.17bn cost of the Hartford Line passenger rail project.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) provided $190.9m to the State of Connecticut to support the construction of track and new rail stations, as well as for track improvements.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) contributed $13.9m for study and conceptual designs of new rail stations of the Hartford Line commuter service.

Funding of $564.3m was provided by the State of Connecticut for the project design and construction.

Hartford Line rail project benefits

The Hartford Line rail project created up to 13,000 new jobs to drive the social and economic development in the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts.

It increases the annual distance travelled by passengers from 52 million miles to 133 million miles and will add 1.26 million new trips a year by 2030.

The programme also supports environmental sustainability by saving more than 3.5 million gallons of fuel a year.