Southwestern Connecticut Lawmakers Urge State to make Up Grading the Danbury Line a Top Priority

February 1, 2013

Hartford, CT – State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton) and State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) are urging fellow lawmakers to make the Danbury branch line of Metro North a priority. Opening in 1852 the Danbury Branch line still uses diesel powered trains that push train cars to New York City and pull train cars to Danbury. It is not electrified like other branches on the system.

Boucher and Lavielle will be supporting a bill that improves performance, increases the number of trains and electrifies the branch.

Rep. Lavielle said, “Metro-North is the artery for the state’s most important zone of economic activity, and the Danbury branch line links two of its most important urban centers, Norwalk and Danbury, and all the towns in between. Yet it is the most antiquated rail line in the country.”

“Despite that, it is still one of the busiest, providing hundreds of thousands of passenger rides a year. If it were in better condition and ran more frequent service, it would be even busier, reducing congestion on the roads, freeing up parking on the main line, and fostering economic development,” said Rep. Lavielle. “There is nothing speculative about the Danbury Branch Line. Our reasoning must not be, ‘Build it and they will come.’ Instead, it must be, ‘Get on with it already, because they are already here – and if you don’t, they just might not stay.’ My urgent message, on behalf of my constituents and the hardworking commuters of Fairfield County, is that fixing and upgrading the highly used New Haven Line and its branches must take priority over new investments that are designed to bear fruit over time.”

“This line is critical to the people in southwestern Connecticut,” said Sen. Boucher. “The thousands of commuters who count on this line to get them to and from work every day deserve to have a working and suitable train system. Right now it is not up to par and that is a problem. It has to be a priority.”

For a decade lawmakers including Senator Boucher, ranking member on the Transportation Committee supported efforts to modernize the line.

“It has taken 14 years to modernize the signal system, while other lines were moved forward into the 21st century. Now it is time to go even further and electrify the Danbury branch so it is compatible with the main New Haven line,” said Sen. Boucher.

Back in 2010, the federal governments invested in the Norwalk/Danbury Branch Line after a long hard-fought battle to avert a shut- down of the line.

“Our continuing challenge is to completely modernize this branch line to meet not only today’s needs, but also future needs. For far too long, commuters who should have been using this line felt compelled to use the New Canaan, South Norwalk and Westport stations because of faulty, out dated equipment. This necessary upgrade will go far in alleviating stress on many other congested train stations throughout Fairfield County,” said Sen. Boucher.

The bill the two lawmakers have Proposed H.B. No. 5180 AN ACT AUTHORIZING BONDS OF THE STATE TO ELECTRIFY THE DANBURY BRANCH OF THE METRO NORTH RAILROAD will be showcased at an upcoming public hearing in Hartford.

Monday February 4th
10:30 a.m.
Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building
300 Capitol Ave., Hartford