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Westporters Sick of Standing on Hot, Dirty Trains

WESTPORT, Conn. – It was nice and cool inside Westport's Metro-North train station late Thursday afternoon. But the sound of a train approaching meant it was time for riders to embark on a long, hot ride – possibly while standing – all the way to New York City.

"On days like this I try to stay in here until the last possible minute when the train pulls up," said 42-year-old Thomas Hudson, an investment analyst from Westport. He worked from home Thursday but was heading into New York City to meet friends for dinner.

"Once we're on the train it can be pretty brutal because the air-conditioning often doesn't work, and by the time we reach Stamford the train is packed," he said. "Coming home at this time from the city means standing until a lot of riders get off in Stamford."

Hudson said he takes the train to Manhattan most mornings and heads back home during the evening rush hour. He says he can only hope the promise of long-awaited new M-8 rail cars becomes a reality soon.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday 25 more M-8 cars will be added to the 380 already on order for the New Haven Line. "It seems like they've been saying that for years, and it doesn't ever happen," said Hudson, who drank a bottle of water to cool off. "Let's just say when I see it I'll believe it."

Natalie Polet, also of Westport, said she is tired of standing on crowded and dirty trains with air-conditioning breakdowns on days when the heat is unbearable. "The trains are too old and disgusting," said Polet. "We are 30 years behind European trains."

Commuter leaders and Metro-North officials said it will take time to catch up because only 10 new cars will be added per month starting in October.

"Overcrowding results from a lack of investment by the state in new rail cars, and the delay in their delivery," said James Cameron, chairman of the Commuter Rail Council. Cameron said many trains have sporadic air-conditioning, with temperatures dropping only 20 degrees – no matter how hot it is outside. Even if the A-C is working "it's still 80 degrees inside the cars," he said.

Metro-North spokeswoman Margie Anders said, "We are operating with a 40-year-old fleet that is inadequate. We can't always guarantee a seat for everyone or that the A-C will work. The trains are not always up to the task."

Does overcrowding or excessive heat impact your decision to rise Metro-North trains along the New Haven Line? Leave a comment below.

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