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New Rail Cars Debut in Fairfield

Commutes along Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line will get much brighter starting next month. Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced Monday the state's new M-8 rail cars would go into service in December. Rell took a ride on the first working model from New Haven to Fairfield to show off the new cars.

"For many years, our commuters have traveled in cars dating to the mid-70s," Rell said. "These older cars have traveled many miles supporting millions of commuters – but it is clearly time for a new fleet."

Manufactured by Japan's Kawasaki Rail Car Inc., the new cars have more room and brighter interior lighting than the old models. They will also feature bathrooms that meet the standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act. And fans of multitasking will appreciate the four 110-volt power outlet in each row of seats.

Transportation Commissioner Jeffrey Parker said Monday the state will put 12 cars into service in the first week of December . The DOT will phase in the remaining cars as testing is completed.

"The M-8 rail car is the most complex rail car in the United States, utilizing both DC-third rail and AC-overhead catenary propulsion systems," Parker said. "Getting the M-8s ready has been challenging but has placed Connecticut's rail fleet in the forefront of the commuter rail industry."

Rell also announced Monday that the state increased its order from 300 to 342 cars. The State Bond Commission has set aside $100 million for the new cars, adding to the $760 million for the first 300 ordered.

Rell hopes the new cars and improvements to the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield train corridor will encourage more commuters to take the train. She said the improved rail service and eased congestion on the state's highways, could help boost Connecticut's economy.

"Our commuters have been saying for years, 'If you want us to get out of our cars, give us a reliable train, give us a green train, give us something modern,'" Rell said. "Now we're delivering on that."

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