Plan for High-Speed Train Is on Track

NBC 5 News

Transportation officials are looking to keep the plans moving forward for high-speed train service through Connecticut, western Massachusetts and Vermont.

The three states have received $160 million in federal economic stimulus money for track improvements to link high-speed trains from New York City to New Haven, Hartford, Springfield, Massachusetts, Vermont and Montreal.

A meeting is scheduled for Thursday in Hartford to update the public on where the project stands.

Supporters say the project will reduce traffic on Interstate 91 and promote economic development.

"The whole idea is to treat this as an important New England north-south initiative," Timothy Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in Springfield, Mass., said.

Commuter rail service on the 64-mile corridor linking New Haven, Hartford and Springfield ended about 40 years ago with the demise of the former New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. Amtrak has controlled the tracks since 1971.

A professor at Quinnipiac University said some major questions remain unanswered, such as cost and whether people can be persuaded to garage their cars  and take the train.  She says she hasn't seen data on whether there's enough demand to support the project.

"It's not so clear to me that it's been completely thought through and justified," Mary Meixell said. "It's not so clear this proposal is going to do enough to compel people to get out of their cars."

The project is part of a multibillion-dollar Obama administration plan to build high-speed rail in the United States. It is being financed by $8 billion in stimulus funding and a recent budget allocation of $2.5 billion.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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