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Lawmakers Call For Danbury Branch Upgrade

A bill from state lawmakers Toni Boucher (R-26) and Gail Lavielle (R-143) calls for electrification, increased performance and more trains on the line.

The Danbury Branch of the New Haven Line isn't electrified, like its sister track to the south -- or most train lines across the country. But two area lawmakers are asking Hartford to help bring the branch up to speed.

State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) and State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) have proposed House Bill 5180, which would authorize state bonds to electrify the branch.

Lavielle called the Danbury Branch the "most antiquated train line in the country" in a release from the Connecticut State Republican's office Friday.

"It has taken 14 years to modernize the signal system, while other lines were moved forward into the 21st century," said Boucher -- whose district includes Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton. "Now it is time to go even further and electrify the Danbury branch so it is compatible with the main New Haven line."

The measure would also improve overall performance and increase the number of trains on the track, making it easier to catch a train.

"This line is critical to the people in southwestern Connecticut," said Boucher. "The thousands of commuters who count on this line to get them to and from work every day deserve to have a working and suitable train system. Right now it is not up to par and that is a problem. It has to be a priority."

The 23-mile Danbury Line stops at multiple stations in northern Fairfield County, including Danbury, Bethel, Redding and Wilton. It has been raising questions for years. Since 2006, an ongoing ConnDOT study has explored the feasibility of electrifying the system. In 2010, the line averted total shut-down when the federal government approved funds to keep it alive.

Hartford will host a public hearing Monday, Feb. 4, at 10:30 a.m., according to the release.

For train times on the Danbury Branch, visit the Metro-North's New Haven Line schedule online.

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