Billion-dollar modernization at New Haven rail yard

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Since the late 1800s, the New Haven rail yard has been the location for maintenance and repairs for rail cars traveling the busy line between here and New York.

It’s now transitioning to be the central repair facility for the state’s new fleet of Mitsubishi, M-8 cars. On Thursday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state DOT Commissioner toured the billion-dollar modernization of the 80-acre yard.

The centerpiece of all the improvements is a 300,000-square-foot railroad train repair facility. The massive building alone cost nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. It’s scheduled to be in service next year.

Rather than working on one car at a time, up to 15 cars can be serviced at once.

“Everything will be modular and so you can see these cranes … entire pieces of this vehicle can be lifted off or repaired from below,” said commissioner James Redeker.

You probably check the wear and tear on your car’s tires but did you know train wheels have to be checked and retooled with a grinder?

“The wheels slip and slide and when the brakes are applied, when they slide, it’s steel on steel (and it) will take away from the steel,” said Jim Fox of the DOT. “You make them round again.”

But up until now they had to take the wheels off the train to do it. The new facility will change all that.

“The train will actually pull into this station and all that work will be done while the wheels are still on the train, saving a lot of time,” Malloy said.

Called an Independent Wheel Truing Facility, it’s scheduled to be in service this fall. The price tag: $36 million. When all the new facilities are completed, the workforce here is expected to grow from the current 700 to 1,600.

Now, as the Governor said Thursday, if Metro-North can do their part, there should be a more pleasant commuting experience in the years ahead.

Malloy also announced the details of a new schedule for train service on the New Haven and Waterbury lines. Check that out here.

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