ConnDOT: Governor Rell: Danbury Commuter Rail Line On Track for Major Signalization Upgrade

FOR RELEASE: July 28, 2009
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Governor Rell: Danbury Commuter Rail Line On Track for Major Signalization Upgrade


Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that the state is greatly expanding a commuter rail project by upgrading all 24 miles of the Danbury Branch of the New Haven Line railroad with modern, remotely controlled signals.

The Governor said the original proposal called for replacing the outdated, manual signals in the eight-mile stretch between Norwalk and Wilton. During a ceremony today at the historic Cannondale Station in Wilton, the Governor was announced that signals along the entire 24-mile track between Norwalk and Danbury will now be modernized. The $53 million project will be paid for using $30 million in federal stimulus funds and a previously approved Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant.

“Upgrading this system will ultimately mean better, safer, more reliable service for the thousands of commuters who depend on the Danbury Branch to get to and from work,” Governor Rell said. “That is key to our effort to encourage greater use of public transportation and reduce congestion on our roads and highways. Improving the commuting and business climate improves our economy.”

The Governor said the Danbury line upgrade is the first state Department of Transportation (DOT) rail project funded with stimulus dollars.

“This project is important for a lot of reasons, but the most important is job creation,” Governor Rell said. “Ultimately that is what the stimulus is all about. Connecticut needs this stimulus – for jobs and for our overall economy – and it cannot come soon enough. Over $1 billion in stimulus funds have already been committed to projects and programs in Connecticut.”

The announcement marks beginning of a Centralized Train Control (CTC) signal modernization project that will include the remote control of train movements and track switches from Metro-North’s Control Center in Grand Central Terminal in New York City. The current system requires manual operation.

“Our partnership with the federal government through ARRA, and Metro-North, underscores our commitment to continuous improvement of the New Haven Line,” the Governor said.

DOT officials say the initial work will begin soon and be done by Metro-North signalization employees. A contract for the project by a private contractor is expected to be awarded in 2010 by the DOT. The signalization cables will be buried in the ground along the tracks. An earlier proposal to have the lines overhead was scrapped because it is much more expensive.

Currently, trains cannot move from one section or “block” of track into another without a verbal OK from a controller in New York. Although there are passing sidings at Norwalk, Branchville, Wilton and Danbury, there is only one track virtually the entire distance between Danbury and Norwalk, so trains cannot pass each other without permission.

“So this is a modernization and safety enhancement project,” DOT Commissioner Joseph F. Marie said. 

The upgrade is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.

State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) said the project has the potential to dramatically improve the region’s economy.

“Governor Rell has made transportation a focus of her administration because she understands our needs, especially in congested Fairfield County,” Senator Boucher said.

The Danbury Branch begins at South Norwalk and has stops at Merritt Seven in Norwalk, Wilton, Cannondale, Branchville, Redding, Bethel and Danbury.