DANBURY, Conn. – Metro-North Railroad is working to add signals to its Danbury Branch, which will allow trains to travel in both directions and improve service for commuters. Although signalization is moving forward, issues such as parking and station hours aren’t likely to change soon, officials said after Metro-North received a mixed report from the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council.
The Danbury Branch runs from South Norwalk to Danbury, with stops in Wilton and Ridgefield and near Redding and Weston.
One of the suggestions in the group’s annual report was for Metro-North to add additional rail cars to the Danbury Branch to reduce crowding. Although it’s uncertain whether more cars will be added, the continued progress of signalizing the Danbury Branch means commuters are getting closer to having more scheduling options. Full signalization along the Danbury Branch will allow trains to run north and south at the same time, compared with the current setup, in which trains can travel in only one direction at a time, said Jim Cameron, chairman of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council.
“That will mean for the first time trains can run in both directions at the same time,” Cameron said. “That will allow them to offer increased service and if that’s the case, that would reduce crowding.”
Signalization has been completed along the Danbury Branch up to Wilton, but an exact completion date is not available at this time, said Marjorie Anders, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates Metro-North. Until that happens, commuters will have to deal with limited northbound trains in the morning and limited southbound trains in the evenings, Cameron said.
Another issue outlined in the report was uncollected tickets.
“We conduct regular audits throughout out our territories to make sure our conductors are taking tickets,” Anders said.
The MTA wants to avoid uncollected tickets and urged customers to report any instances of uncollected tickets to the MTA customer service department, Anders said.
But some of the most cumbersome aspects of commuting along the Danbury Branch — parking and station hours — are not likely to change soon.
Parking facilities and stations are owned and operated by the Connecticut Department of Transportation, not Metro-North, and statewide budget issues will likely diminish significant improvement, Cameron said.
“There’s nothing that has been done to expand parking at any of the Danbury Branch parking stations,” he said, noting a parking garage has been approved in Wilton, but there’s no word on when construction will start.