MERIDEN — State and city leaders crowded onto the platform at the new Meriden train station to cut the ribbon on the CTrail Hartford Line, which officials hope will provide an alternative for commuters and potentially ease highway congestion.
“At the very least we have laid out a vision of what transportation in Connecticut could and should be,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. “We have laid out a vision on how that would positively impact the state of Connecticut, by making us far more competitive for the kinds of jobs that we need to attract.”
The transit project, which cost more than $700 million, improved tracks and signals along a 62-mile corridor, updating stations and connecting communities between Hartford and New Haven. Trains will make 17 round trips daily through the region, reaching speeds of up to 110 miles per hour.
The $21 million Meriden station, 60 State St., opened for Amtrak service last fall and features high-level heated platforms, an overhead pedestrian bridge and a passenger display system.
Hartford Line trains will begin running on June 16 and free service will be offered during the program’s inaugural weekend.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati said the commencement of the rail line marks another step in the city’s transformation, bolstered by surrounding housing developments and the Meriden Green.
“I truly see Meriden as a destination for many people in the state of Connecticut, whether they are commuting to work or want to come to a place they can enjoy,” Scarpati said.
For Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker, commuter benefits take a back seat to the potential economic growth the rail line could bring to the region.
“This station will become an epicenter for travel, but more importantly, perhaps economic development,” Redeker said. “This is why we do investments in transportation.”
The line was initially set to begin service in May, but was pushed back to June. During a short Q&A, Malloy said the reason for the delay was to work out any potential kinks, noting the trains will run over 500 hours before June.
“We need some practice on the rail system,” Malloy said. “We don’t want to see a replication of other mistakes.”
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