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Second Survey on Next Generation of CT Rail Cars Completed

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has completed two public surveys to gain public input for the procurement of the next generation of rail cars for the state’s passenger rail system. Together the surveys generated nearly 1,300 responses and provide CTDOT with a clear vision of amenities to prioritize as the procurement process moves forward.

The first survey was launched in September and received over 700 responses. The survey sought public feedback on key customer amenities for the coach interiors and launched a public lottery to select participants for a Customer Advisory Panel (CAP). This survey concluded in mid-October. Ultimately, ten individuals were selected to serve on the panel, representing a cross section of all rail lines serving the state as well as four advocates representing disability rights organizations, bicyclists, pedestrians and the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council.

Following the first CAP meeting held in late October, CTDOT determined the procurement process would benefit from a follow-up survey seeking focused feedback regarding lighting, Wi-Fi and cellular amenities on rail cars.  This survey was launched in late November and received 572 responses through January when the survey was closed.

The results of both surveys reflect input from a customer base with diverse needs and preferences, yet many shared priorities. In the first survey, respondents were asked to rank the importance of the following rail car features: seating quality, restroom access, Wi-Fi availability, latest environmental standards, interior dynamic messaging signs, reading lights, the ability to store bicycles, tray tables, and foot rests. The results showed:


  • Respondents indicated that seating quality should be prioritized over any other amenity with 96% of respondents indicating it was at least “somewhat important”.


  • Nearly 80% of respondents agreed that it was important that the rail cars have restroom access, met the latest environmental standards, and had reliable cellular service.


  • Nearly 10% of the 275 comments left at the end of the survey were related to electrical outlets; specifically, that outlets located near seats be included in rail car design, that every passenger have easy access to an outlet, and that outlets be chosen over USB ports for charging.

The follow-up survey conducted in December and concluded this month focused on  three topics – interior lighting, Wi-Fi /internet access and cellular phone service. Results showed:

  • Most respondents to the second survey believed the current level of lighting on trains was sufficient and the type of lighting most preferred was neutral or ‘day’ white.
  • A significant number of respondents to the second survey left additional comments requesting CTDOT consider dimming interior lighting in the early morning and/or evening.
  • Respondents continued to emphasize the importance of reliable cellular service being available on the trains.
  • There was no clear consensus on which mode should be given highest priority in the design of new coaches (Wi-Fi availability, 4G or 5G access), reflecting the rapidly evolving field of cellular and internet technology.


Since the launch of the two surveys, Connecticut has partnered with AT&T to expand 5G with small cell installations along the state’s rail lines. The Department is working with AT&T to optimize cellular service to meet riders’ demands; roof-top antennas on the new rail cars will strengthen both 4G and 5G signals inside the train.

This input collected from these surveys will continue to guide the Department as it works with industry experts to design the new rail cars. Going forward, the Department will be conducting additional meetings with the CAP at key stages in the process. CTDOT thanks all the participants that took the time to provide thoughtful feedback on their vision for the future of rail in Connecticut.

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