The state Bonding Commission has approved $60.5 million to purchase 25 more cars for Metro-North Railroad.
The total number of new cars will be 405 by 2014. There are currently 26 new cars in service.
The M-8 cars are being produced at a rate of 10 per month in Nebraska by Kawasaki. They will replace the aging M-4 and M-6 rail cars.
Metro-North has been under fire from commuters, politicians and emergency responders of late after heat-related issues caused major delays, stalled trains on tracks with steamed riders inside and cut off air-conditioning.
Officials from the railroad plan to meet with Westport officials Friday to discuss mismanagement after a train was stuck between the Westport and Greens Farms stations for more than two hours.
Passengers had to call for emergency help themselves as they began to suffer from heat fatigue.
It took extra time for emergency responders to reach the stalled train because Metro-North could not provide an exact location. No one was hospitalized, but hundreds were given water and treated by paramedics.
U.S. Congressmen Jim Himes (D-4) and Rosa DeLauro (D-3) have called for an investigation into how the railroad handles emergency communications.
The summer issues come after a winter of discontent for commuters who had to deal with delays, busing and canceled trains as the railroad’s 40-year-old cars broke down frequently.
Westport State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, a Democrat who sits on the state’s Transportation Committee, praised the funding in a news release.
“For far too long Metro North riders have been forced to deal with overcrowding, delays and breakdowns,” Steinberg said in a statement. “These new cars will go a long way towards making sure Fairfield County commuters are able to get to work comfortably and on time,” said Steinberg. “I want to thank Governor Malloy for his strong commitment to improving our commuter rail system.”
“More drivers will consider taking Metro North as more new trains are added, and that means less gridlock on I-95 and the Merritt,” said Steinberg.
Steinberg said he will also be fighting against any state funding that will be taken away from transportation projects as the governor’s office tries to close the state’s budget gap.
“Taking money away from transportation projects is bad for commuters and it’s bad for taxpayers,” said Steinberg. “We must address Fairfield County’s deteriorating infrastructure. And the longer we wait the more it will cost us.”