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Shore Line East converts trains to electric

New London — The train that rolled into Union Station on Monday came without a wisp of the diesel fumes that riders have grown accustomed to over the years.

The electric train, known as M8 Electric Multiple Units or EMU, made its debut on Shore Line East with an inaugural ride from New Haven to New London. The newer and quieter replacement for the diesel-powered trains starts on Tuesday.

Gov. Ned Lamont joined a host of dignitaries for a news conference to announce the news at New Haven’s Union Station earlier on Monday. Some then hopped aboard for a ride.

“These electric trains coming into service are an important milestone for Shore Line East,” Lamont said in a statement. “It is an improvement that has been long awaited, and has been delivered. We are speeding up transportation in the state and saving people time in their day. At the same time, we are fighting climate change by investing in cleaner, greener transportation. We are making investments in statewide rail travel and delivering on the promise to make our trains faster, quieter, and more efficient.”

The M8 EMU trains have been in service on Metro-North’s New Haven Line for more than 10 years. DOT officials said the delay for Shore Line East was in part due to work had to be performed on the overhead electrical service that power the cars.

Waiting on the train platform was Department of Transportation employee Zigmund Korenkiewicz of Stonington, a regular rider of Shore Line East who makes the daily commute by train to New Haven for work.

“I’ve been waiting for the M8s. It’s just a more updated ride,” he said.

He said the trains are newer, have more amenities such as power outlets at every seat and are quieter than their diesel counterparts. Korenkiewicz said the noise reduction is likely to be noticed in the shoreline neighborhoods the train rolls through. The trains, which emit no carbon emissions, have brighter interior spaces, updated restrooms, higher back seats and improved luggage racks, Shore Line East said in a statement.

“Electric trains on Shore Line East have been talked about for many years, and there were a lot of hurdles to overcome,” DOT Commissioner Joe Giulietti said in a statement.

“These newer, more reliable, and all-electric M8 trains on Shore Line East will both improve the customer experience for Connecticut visitors and residents and further reduce our carbon footprint,” he said.

Aundre Bumgardner, a Groton Town Council member who is running for the 41st House District, served on the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee during his time in Hartford between 2014 and 2016.

“I never understood how our commuter rail line with overhead wires running on the same track as Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor wasn't electrified,” Bumgardner said.

“Now, Shore Line East commuters will have the same state-of-the art, efficient, and clean M-8 trains that NYC-bound commuters get on the New Haven Line. Next stop, a commuter station in Groton & Mystic,” he said.

With the new electric trains come new schedules. To view the current SLE schedule and check news and alerts, visit www.ShoreLineEast.com. For information on Amtrak, visit Amtrak.com. Information about all rail services in Connecticut is available at CTrail.com.

g.smith@theday.com

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