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"Bar Cars" Will Return to New Haven Line in New Rail Fleet

Lori Mack
Gov. Dannel Malloy announces the addition of a new fleet of M-8 cars to the New Haven Line at a press conference Tuesday.

Rail commuters on the New Haven Line might have a little more space to stretch their legs with the addition of 60 new M-8 train cars, Governor Dannel Malloy announced Tuesday. On ten of those cars, passengers will have the option to buy a drink at a built-in bar.

“I think it’s part of our history. It’s part of our culture, it’s part of the fun. And quite frankly, these cars carry a lot of people,” Malloy said.

Metro-North bar cars have been around since the 1970s, but the last fleet was retired in 2014.

Malloy said the total cost of new cars will be $308 million, two-thirds of which the state will pay for. The other third will be paid by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Malloy said.

Malloy said the state bond commission will consider allocating $200 million for the cars later this month.

Each new car will have 105 seats, and the new fleet will start to roll out in January 2019.  

The first M-8s arrived in Connecticut in 2011 and feature more spacious seating, electrical outlets, and bike racks.

Credit Office of Governor Dannel Malloy
A rendering of an M-8 bar car.

Malloy said increasing ridership on the New Haven Line factored into the state's decision to buy more cars.

“The idea that we’re celebrating a 12 percent expansion on the use of this line at a time when gas prices effectively went down is quite remarkable, and I think is a testament to the progress we’re making,” Malloy said.

In 2015, commuter rail trains on the New Haven line provided 40.3 million rides.

Meanwhile, at the end of the year, the state is planning to raise fares on the New Haven Line by six percent to help cover cuts to the state Department of Transportation’s budget.

WNPR's Lori Mack contributed to this report. 

Ryan Caron King joined Connecticut Public in 2015 as a reporter and video journalist. He was also one of eight reporters on the New England News Collaborative’s launch team, covering regional issues such as immigration, the environment, transportation, and the opioid epidemic.

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