State: Timing, Duration of New Canaan Branch Line Shutdown TBD


New Canaan Train Station. Credit: Michael Dinan

State officials say they don’t yet know just when or for how long service on Metro-North Railroad’s New Canaan branch line will be suspended.

The state Department of Transportation and Metro-North “are in communication regarding significant track work proposed on the New Canaan Branch Line,” according to DOT Communications Manager Josh Morgan.

“To expedite completion, rail service will be temporarily suspended,” Morgan told in an email. “CTDOT will ensure riders will continue to have access to transportation and be able to get to their destinations by running buses to replace train service.”

He continued, “The construction schedule, which will ultimately determine when and for how long service will be suspended, has not yet been finalized but will be communicated publicly upon completion. We continue to discuss the project with Metro-North to minimize impacts to customers. CTDOT will have robust public engagement and communication to ensure riders and stakeholders are aware of any service changes as a result of this track enhancement project.”

Rumors of a planned shut-down of the New Canaan branch line began circulating in mid-February on social media. 

Members of the Parking Commission and other town officials discussed the plans during the appointed body’s regular meeting, held March 1 in Town Hall and via videoconference.

There, officials said their understanding is that the disruption stems from plans for a new station to be installed in east Stamford, between Glenbrook and the main train station downtown. 

It would “require our [New Canaan’s] track” to be “moved over” in order to “connect to the main line,” according to Bob Mantilia, whose title with the town is Special Projects.

9 thoughts on “State: Timing, Duration of New Canaan Branch Line Shutdown TBD

  1. If the reason for the shutdown is correct, 2 obvious questions (I suspect there are many more):

    The distance between the Glenbrook and Stamford train stations is 2.3 miles, why is another new train station on that route necessary?

    Do the Darien and Noroton Heights stations have enough extra parking to accommodate hundreds of commuters from New Canaan, Talmadge Hill, Springdale and Glenbrook?

    Thank You

  2. It would be nice to have a shuttle between New Canaan / Talmadge Hill stations and Darien (for the shutdown period), and then perhaps a separate shuttle for Springdale / Glenbrook.

    Such shuttles would avoid heavy traffic near Stamford and would allow the commuters to board less crowded trains in Darien. Besides, Darien has more frequent train service. This might be better than running a single slow bus along the New Canaan Line on the current, fairly limited, schedule.

    This way the parking lots at New Canaan and Talmadge Hill will basically serve as temporary commuter lots for the Darien station.

  3. What strikes me is the apparent lack of transparency on MTA/CT DOT plans with respect to this matter…..from reported rumors of a shutdown of the New Canaan branch a few months ago to this current announcement. Something just doesn’t seem right here. There is also the lack of details on duration, alternative arrangements for commuters, etc.

  4. This shutdown and track maintenance would be the perfect time to add a siding rail on the New Canaan branch line to allow trains to pass at peak AM/PM times. This would allow for dramatic improvements to passenger movement along this branch for commuters in both directions.

    • I would encourage you to talk with the BoS or T/C (as well as state legislators) about this issue and see if some sort of community group could be put together to address the issue (and look at the branch line in general).
      It is odd that town officials can’t get basic answers to the question about coverage over this summer and does not bode well for any long term projects. While I have no inside information, I suspect that we have some macro issues to deal with before the State / MTA will invest in a siding:
      1) Ridership on the branch line is still about 50% of what it was pre-pandemic
      2) The MTA is going to have some real financing challenges when pandemic stimulus funding ends – estimated gap of $3b in 2025 i.e. are additional investments on the table or service cuts or a combination of tax and fare increases?
      3) How does the branch line fit in with Penn Station access from 2027 – does the branch line become more of a shuttle going back and forth to Stamford or will it maintain ‘peak hour’ direct service to/fr NYC?
      4) How does the branch line upgrade fit in with zoning issues being discussed in Hartford – essentially transit orientated development and will these 2 issues then be linked?
      5) How to address resident issues regarding the train horn i.e. can the branch line become a quiet zone?

  5. Stamford’s MTA station started a “Track 7” project when they replaced the Atlantic St. Bridge. That new platform and trackbed made possible with the larger space is visible on the right sides as one rides in from New Canaan. It is a “Dead-End” platform. While this press release mentions tracks at Stamford it curiously omits any reference to this nearly finished Track 7 platform.

    Princeton NJ has a 2-car shuttle that runs on 30 minute increments with a single conductor/engineer. In comparison most NC trains are 6 cars even in off-peak when only 4 active car are used. Single operator trains in off-peak could allow for a shorter, less expensive passing siding as well.

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