FOR RELEASE: June 12, 2018
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CTDOT Responds to Change in FRA restroom Policy

Restrooms will be closed temporarily on half of the Hartford Line trains

(NEWINGTON, CT) – The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) today responded to a new directive from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) this week which will require restrooms on half of the CT rail Hartford Line trains to be closed temporarily until they can be retrofitted to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, which will be completed in early 2019. 

In response to the change from FRA, CTDOT has begun taking immediate steps before the line opens to accommodate customers:

·        Fully accessible portable restrooms will be installed at the five Hartford Line stations that do not currently have them: Berlin, Meriden, Wallingford, Windsor and Windsor Locks.

·        New signage at stations and on the Hartford Line website will make clear which cars will have restrooms available, and remind all riders to plan accordingly.

·        CTDOT will work aggressively to ensure restrooms are available on all trains early in 2019. DOT’s service provider has engaged a rail maintenance company to modify the interior of the coaches and install a prefabricated bathroom that is compliant with ADA requirements. This work is being performed on spare cars; later, the cars initially put into use will be upgraded when the first pair is returned to service.

The FRA’s change will only apply to CTDOT-operated Hartford Line Trains, which is approximately 50 percent of the trains in daily operation of the line. All Amtrak trains have on-board restrooms available for passengers to use during their trips. Customers riding the Hartford Line have the option of taking any Amtrak Regional or Shuttle trains on the line using a CT rail ticket.

CTDOT is committed to accessibility, and parking and service amenities have been upgraded on the Hartford Line to ensure that all stations are fully accessible to customers with special mobility needs.  Further, when the DOT initiated the lease of the train coaches from Massachusetts, the Department immediately initiated the retrofit of the on-board restrooms to meet current ADA standards, since the coaches were built before the Americans with Disabilities Act took effect in 1990.  Based on an exception in the regulations for older coaches in intercity service, the FRA approved the use of the coaches on an interim basis until the bathrooms are being modified. However, the FRA reversed this decision days before the launch of the Hartford Line, and the bathrooms must now remain locked until the modifications are complete and one accessible restroom per consist is available.

“While we hope that the FRA will reconsider its position over the next several months, CTDOT is thrilled to launch Connecticut’s first new passenger train service in 20 years,” said CTDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “With trains capable of reaching speeds of 110 miles per hour, the Hartford Line will offer fast, easy service from New Haven to Hartford and beyond. In short, it will be a game-changer for Connecticut’s transit options, and I am confident that it will be a smooth and successful launch.”