New Train Service Beats Beach Traffic

It's disheartening, on a summer Sunday evening in Southeastern Connecticut, to see I-95 jammed with cars, a fuming swath of barely perceptible movement, while the railroad tracks along the shore are all but empty.

For those stuck in their cars, it is a major waste of time and energy, not the ideal way to end a holiday weekend.

Now there's another option. On June 1, Shore Line East began weekend rail service between New Haven, Old Saybrook and New London. It's now possible to get to shoreline beaches, parks and attractions without stewing in highway traffic.

Department of Economic and Community Development Deputy Commissioner Kip Bergstrom called it a win-win for the state, and it is. The trains can carry more people with less energy use, pollution and stress.

The weekend and holiday service, operated by the state Department of Transportation, consists of 19 trains, 14 serving New London and five serving Old Saybrook (see for schedules). Shore Line East runs 30 trains on weekdays.

The new weekend service took serious negotiation with Amtrak and the boating industry. It's a victory for rail advocates — the One More Stop Coalition and others — in the region who fought the good fight for several years.

Credit should go to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and DOT Commissioner James Redeker, who saw an opportunity to rebalance the area's transportation system and took it.

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