Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

March 4, 2024

Transportation Committee ponders restoring full service to Shore Line East rail line

HBJ PHOTO | STEVE LASCHEVER Gov. Ned Lamont recently rode the CTrail Hartford line from the Capital City to Meriden to promote transit-oriented development.

The General Assembly’s Transportation Committee today heard testimony on a proposal (Senate Bill 277) that would restore Shore Line East rail line’s services to pre-pandemic levels for the first time in four years.

What’s at stake:

Shore Line East is a regional train service that connects communities along the I-95 corridor with stops in New London, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Clinton, Guilford, Madison, Branford and New Haven. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, service for the rail line was reduced to about 40% of pre-COVID levels, according to information from the state, which has caused disruptions for people who rely on the train service for transportation. Even as schedules on the line have been ramping back up slightly, the line still hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels of service.

According to data from the state Department of Transportation, Shore Line East operated 222 trains weekly and annual ridership was 660,477 in 2019. Currently, Shore Line East operates 112 trains per week and annual ridership for 2023 was 176,979. This reflects a 73.2% decrease in ridership between 2019 and 2023, and a slightly less than 50% reduction in service between the years.

Who’s for it:

Legislators from both sides of the aisle testified in favor of the proposals as a means of increasing public transportation options for residents in the region.

Jim Gildea, chairman of the Connecticut Public Transportation Council, said Shore Line East is the only rail line in the state that hasn’t been brought back up to pre-pandemic levels.

  • “Without question, the best way to increase ridership of a public transportation option is to provide constant, steady service,” he said. “We do the exact opposite on the Shore Line East. One need only look at the Waterbury branch (of which I am a commuter) to see what providing service does for ridership. That branch was given 7 additional trains and a 44% increase in service. The results are clear, it is the only rail line in the entire State of Connecticut that ended 2023 with an increase in pre Covid ridership.”

Who’s against it:

The proposal hasn’t faced any public opposition so far.

Without specifically coming out in favor or opposition of the proposal, state Department of Transportation Commissioner Garrett T. Eucalitto said the Shore Line East rail line was already seeing a decline in ridership before the pandemic struck in 2020. He said the state’s adopted budget, and the governor’s adjustment proposals, don’t include the funding needed to fully restore the rail line.

“The Adopted Budget includes funding for Shore Line East matching service levels- reflecting 44% of pre-COVID service for both FY 2024 and FY2025,” Eucalitto said. “CTDOT staff have worked collaboratively with customers, the CT Public Transportation Council, and the Shore Line East advocacy groups to develop a customer-centric schedule consistent with the Adopted Budget.”

What’s next:

The Transportation Committee held a public hearing Monday morning to hear from constituents about the proposal. The committee would need to approve it before it can go the the Senate or House for considerations.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF