New train stations in Meriden, Wallingford and Berlin are expected to be open well before the start of increased rail service in May, according to John Bernick, assistant rail administrator for the state Department of Transportation.
Since work on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail, now branded the CTrail Hartford Line, began in 2015, the expected opening date of area stations has been pushed back several times.
The Meriden and Wallingford stations are expected to open in the next couple months, with Berlin coming early next year.
As each new station is complete, existing Amtrak trains will begin using them. In May 2018, increased service will start at all stations as part of the CTrail Hartford Line.
With stations opening soon, Bernick said marketing efforts will ramp up.
“Once the platforms come along, we’ll probably have some events there,” Bernick said. A ribbon-cutting ceremony with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will be held for each station, DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said. To prepare you for the commuter rail service, here are some things to know about the CTrail Hartford Line.
The new service line is expected to increase round-trip weekday service between New Haven and Springfield. From New Haven to Hartford, trains will increase from six to 17 per day. Between Hartford and Springfield, trains will increase from six to 12 per day.
The estimated time of commute from New Haven to Springfield is 81 minutes, with trains traveling up to 110 mph, according to DOT.
The CTtrail Hartford Line will have options to connect to Amtrak and Acela services, Metro North and Shore Line East rail services via the New Haven station. Express bus service is available to Bradley International Airport from the Hartford rail station, as well as a transfer to CTfastrak.
Fare prices will be similar to Shore Line East, according to DOT. Shore Line East prices range from $3.25 to $10.25 for one-way tickets, according to the service’s website.
Public hearings on the proposed CTrail Hartford Line fares will be held Nov. 13, 14 and 15 in New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, respectively, according to Everhart.
More information on the hearings will be available from the DOT in the next few weeks, Everhart said.
The agency will release an updated website with train schedules when the new stations are open in November, Bernick said.
Parking fees at each station are expected to be $2 per day or $20 per month. Parking will be free on weekends and federal holidays, according to DOT.
Fares can be paid in cash or using the ticket vending machines available, which take debit or credit cards.
Berlin, Meriden and Wallingford will feature high-level platforms, overhead pedestrian bridges and increased parking, according to DOT.
The rail line boasts new passenger-focused amenities such as automatic platform snow melt systems, a real-time passenger information display system, bike racks and electric vehicle charging stations. All stations will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. None of the stations will have bathrooms.
Wallingford and Meriden are scheduled to wrap up construction and be open by November. Finishing touches are being made to the stations, fixing issues with the fire alarm systems and emergency lighting, Bernick said.
Berlin may open partially this winter, or DOT will wait until spring to open fully. A full opening may be delayed to allow temperature sensitive concrete to be added to certain platforms for extra durability, otherwise the station will open only on select platforms at first, according to Bernick.
The North Haven station is still in the design stage. Once the design is complete, DOT will focus on project funding, Bernick said. As of now, the station is projected to be completed in 2020, along with Enfield, Newington, West Hartford, Windsor and Windsor Locks stations, Everhart said.
The DOT is focusing on transit-oriented development to increase walkability, economic development and land value within a half-mile radius of each station.
Meriden’s TOD program is working to add new residential units and commercial space near the station. A 273-space parking garage on Colony Street opened earlier this year, and the 14-acre Meriden Green adjacent to the station opened last year.
The goal of each TOD program is to have a medium to high development density compared to the community average, a well-designed pedestrian-orientated environment, an active center and innovated parking options, according to DOT.
The Wallingford TOD plan will shift industrial development to the north to add retail development downtown, as well as expand the existing Parker Place apartment complex by 200 units. The town also plans to create a new Town Center zoning district and reduce off-street parking requirements.
In Berlin, accessibility between the mixed-use development Depot Crossing and the new station will be improved in their TOD plan. The town is also looking to advance several redevelopment opportunities.
The TOD plan in North Haven will include the establishment of a Medical Epicenter Elderly Residential Zone district, adoption of a Tax Incentive Program and the completion of a Walkability and Livability Plan. Redevelopment sites include the North Haven Medical Center, Village on State, and redevelopment of the former Pharmacia and Upjohn site.