ConnPIRG, Hartford Students Praise Obama Administration for Kick-Starting High Speed Rail in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Feb. 9 – Connecticut students are on board for bringing a stronger, faster rail system to the state, which will connect them to their hometowns, reduce congestion, oil use, and carbon emissions. While there is much still to be done, the Obama administration’s recent decision to award $40 million in high speed rail funds to Connecticut is the first step in making this a reality.

That was the message that ConnPIRG and students from Trinity College made clear today when they gathered to release The Right Track, a new research report from ConnPIRG.  

“High-speed rail offers solutions to our economic, energy and environmental problems. It will put people to work, cut our energy consumption and improve travel. Connecticut has recognized the need to greatly improve our rail system and now we must to build off this momentum to ensure the state is a good investment for future high-speed rail funding,” said Jenn Hatch, an Associate at ConnPIRG. 

Connecticut Transportation Commissioner Joseph F. Marie expanded on the state’s plan for moving forward, saying, “As we embrace every available mobility option, including intercity passenger rail service, and specifically high-speed rail service, it makes sense on every level in Connecticut in terms of economics, efficiency and the environment. The key to success is in the collaborative, regional approach we are taking with our Northeastern governors and transit planners. Investments in the Northeastern Corridor today will benefit generations of commuters, tourists and other travelers.” 

The new report analyzes the potential of high speed rail in nine different regions, including the northeast, and presents eleven public-interest recommendations for how to spend high speed rail investments in the future.  According to data cited in the report, the completion of a national high-speed rail network would reduce car travel by 29 million trips and air travel by nearly 500,000 flights annually.   

Last month, the Obama administration announced that 31 states will receive a portion of $8 billion in funding to build and plan for high speed rail under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Connecticut will receive $40 million for rail from New Haven to Springfield, a vital inland connection to Western Massachusetts, Boston and New York.  

“This project might one day be part of a national network of high speed rail on par with the bullet trains of Europe and Asia, but it is going to take a long-term commitment from all levels of government to plan and fund the system,” said Hatch. “Without such a commitment, this recent momentum could be lost. We simply cannot afford a false start on high speed rail.”  

staff | TPIN

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