Meriden cable work is part of high-speed rail service

Meriden cable work is part of high-speed rail service


Amtrak workers continue the installation of underground signal and communication cables at the Meriden train station, Monday, May 6, 2013. This is the first portion of construction for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail Program. The work is required to upgrade signal and communication systems for the NHHS rail corridor and prepare for subsequent track and infrastructure improvements to re-establish Track 2. There will be occasional traffic interruptions at the grade crossings as the cable installation is progressed. | (Dave Zajac/Record-Journal)

MERIDEN — Work on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail project continued throughout the state this week.

Crews from Amtrak were downtown working on the first stage of construction for the rail corridor. Traffic was stopped intermittently Monday morning as workers were busy installing underground signal and communication cables.

John Bernick, project manager for the state Department of Transportation, said the work started in the fall and crews have been in and out of Meriden for several months. Fiberoptic cables and signal cables have to be installed for a new communications system.

On Monday, a cable train, pulled by a locomotive, placed the cable 6 feet into the ground. After the work in Meriden was finished, it traveled to Windsor Locks, Bernick said Tuesday.

The new systems will mainly benefit the trains’ engineers, letting them know the tracks are clear and at what speed they can travel. The new train control system will have a failsafe feature, Bernick said.

“If an engineer exceeds speed or passes a train too closely, the system will override and the train will shut down,” Bernick said.

All this technology is supported by the cables, he said.

Bernick said the crews will be in Meriden in the coming months. The goal is to get most of the cable installed in the next year.

State Rep. Mary M. Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, said she’s very excited about the work. She said the new train service will remake downtown Wallingford and entice business.

“I’m thrilled it’s coming,” Mushinsky said.

Young professionals like train service, Mushinsky said, preferring to leave their cars at home and commute by public transit.

“It can’t come soon enough,” she said.

The project represents a broad partnership among Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration. The goal is to provide people traveling between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield with high-speed rail service equal to the nation’s best passenger rail service. The new service will connect with existing Metro-North commuter rail and Amtrak Acela high-speed rail service on the New Haven line to New York and northeast to New London and Boston.

The service is expected to begin by 2016.

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