New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield are now connected by rail service. The inaugural trains left Friday morning from Springfield and New Haven, meeting in Hartford for a ceremony to mark the opening of the revived line.
Speaking on the platform at New Haven, Governor Dannel Malloy said the new service is the beginning of big economic changes for Connecticut.
“It will change how we think about ourselves," he told the assembled crowd. "Where we get talent for any job in any one of those cities. And as we do other modernization then we’ll connect other cities more brilliantly than we have in the past. This is about change, and this is about building an economy that will be competitive in the future.”
Mayor of New Haven Toni Harp rode the train, and described the service as a shot in the arm for her city.
“It means that workers who now come into New Haven from the central part of the state will not have to drive," she told Connecticut Public Radio. "So it will reduce emissions, hopefully it will reduce the need for a lot of parking we have, and it will just create an ease for people coming into town.”
During the ceremony in Hartford, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal offered a little historical perspective on how the project came about in the first place.
"We were the very fortunate beneficiaries of bad leadership in Florida," he explained.
Blumenthal was referring to something that happened almost a decade ago, when congress passed the American Recovery and Investment Act. Among the provisions in the stimulus package was $8 billion for high speed rail projects.
Many Republican governors refused to take the stimulus money on principal, calling it a 'bailout". Florida Governor Charlie Crist had big plans for a high speed rail line, bucked the trend and accepted the funds. But his successor, Rick Scott killed the project, and the funds were then redirected to the Hartford Line proposal.
"They actually decided to forgo money for their rail system out of a misguided, ideological blinder that Connecticut fortunately avoided," said Blumenthal.
The Hartford Line will be officially open for business Monday, after offering free rides to all of its stops this weekend.
There will be 16 trains running on weekdays that connect both states. They'll run from as early as 4:35 in the morning in New Haven and 5:23 from Springfield.