Push for federal train money

Metro-North railroad car. (WTNH)

NORWALK, Conn. (WTNH) — Some of Connecticut’s federal lawmakers are trying to funnel in some federal money to help revamp transportation in the state. On Friday, they hopped on the train to highlight how a lot of train commuters in the state are fed up.

Long after the hardcore train commuters had made their trip this morning, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, Representative Elizabeth Esty, and other state officials hopped on the Metro North Danbury line and made the trip from Danbury to Norwalk. They are all pushing for a big chunk of federal money to deal with a ridership explosion along that line.

“Over a one year period of time, near double digit increase in the number of people who are utilizing this line,” said Murphy.

“It’s imperative for this state to move forward boldly into the future and we don’t do that with small increases. We do that with big bold plans and that’s what we are here supporting,” said Esty.

Under the federal transportation bill, which both Murphy and Esty backed, federal spending on Connecticut rail systems is up about seven percent. Both lawmakers say that is not nearly enough to fix the big problems on the Danbury line.

“Ultimately in Washington, we’ve got to have the courage to come up with real new money for rail infrastructure in this country,” said Murphy.

“We’ve got the older trains, because they aren’t electrified, we have the older cars, and this is where it will be transformative. To make the commute not two to four hours from Danbury, but if we could get it down to an hour into New York City, that would make a huge difference,” said Esty.

Their goal in the next five years is to buy all new electrified trains on the Danbury line, build a new rail yard, and eventually extend service all the way to New Milford. There are no firm numbers yet on what that would cost. But the lawmakers say the economic development that would pop up around an improved rail line would more than make up for it.

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