A new estimate from commuter rail backers pegs the cost of creating commuter rail between Waterbury and Hartford at $443 million.
The figure includes new stations, tracks and other necessary improvements, supporters said.
Peter Lynch, an Old Saybrook resident with decades of experience with the New Haven Railroad, said at the meeting, “Fixing up the railroad here is not a big deal.”
He said the line, which had trains running on double tracks every half hour back in the 1920s, can up upgraded again for about $1 million a mile.
The work, Lynch said, “is relatively simple” and not time-consuming.
“There’s nothing easier than upgrading existing railroad,” Lynch said.
He said that commuter rail running from Bristol through New Britain and Newington into Hartford would take 27 minutes. Taking a bus from Bristol would take 50 minutes when the busway is finished.
For Plainville, Lynch said, the difference is 20 minutes by train to Hartford or 40 minutes by bus.
As a freight line, the railroad is marginal these days, Lynch said. But with commuter rail, there would be money to keep the track in top condition, spurring more freight use as well.
Lynch said he has no vested interest in the outcome of the busway versus rail battle. He said it makes more sense to provide commuter rail for a third of the state for less than $500 million than it does to spend nearly $600 million on a busway that only a few towns would benefit from.
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