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Bond Commission cuts proposed funding for new Danbury, Waterbury branch rail cars

After a false start last week because of technology issues, the state Bond Commission has met to approve funding, most the long over due aid to municipalities.  There was an item on the agenda calling for $360-million for new rail cars for the Shoreline East, the Hartford to Massachusetts line, and the Danbury and Waterbury branches of Metro North.  Then it was lowered yesterday to $300-million, and eliminated the 12 rail cars for Danbury and Waterbury. 

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw says the rail cars were postponed for now because of funding issues.  She says the lengthy debate, and no action, over how to pay for transit improvements has led to reduced funding availability.  McCaw says the additional rail cars were contemplated as part of a broader enhancement plan, a plan that has not been resolved.  That's a reference to legislative opposition to Governor Lamont’s now-trucks-only tolling plan.

DOT Commissioner Joe Giulietti told the Bond Commission that the the cost per car is about $5 million.  He noted that rail cars along the Hartford line have been leased from Massachusetts and the state needs to replace them.  The Shoreline East cars are the oldest in the system.

State Representative Chris Davis, ranking member of the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee, is a member of the Bond Commission.  He asked why some of the new cars cannot also be used on the Danbury and Waterbury branches.  Giulietti said the need is on the two other lines.  He noted that the DOT will continue to modernize the lines, adding that they've taken advantage of the fact that with ridership down more work is getting done on Positive Train Control and the signalization project. 

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