Metro-North Railroad's branch line through Valley to get more attention

Metro-North Railroad has named an individual to focus on improving service on the Waterbury Branch Line, which goes through the Valley and includes the Derby train station that also serves Shelton.

Mike Donnarumma has been named district superintendent on the New Haven Line, with a particular focus on to the Waterbury Branch Line. Donnarumma worked at the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce and the Connecticut Department of Transportation before joining Metro-North in 2007.

“My goal is to provide the best service possible to the Waterbury Branch and to be a go-between to the customers and the railroad,” Donnarumma said.

Branch line is 27 miles long

The 27-mile-long Waterbury Branch connects Bridgeport and Waterbury and also has stations in Derby/Shelton, Ansonia, Seymour, Beacon Falls and Naugatuck. Average weekday ridership is about 460 people.

Major improvements to the Waterbury Branch are already in the works, including a new signal system and the implementation of a Positive Train Control system, according to a release from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office.

In the last four years, the state has spent almost $11 million in branch-specific upgrades of track, bridges and culverts to restore the line to a state-of-good repair, stated the release.

Malloy: Improvements are needed

Malloy commended Metro North Railroad for Donnarumma’s appointment and the potential for improvements on the Waterbury Branch Line.

“The state of this line is quite frankly unacceptable,” Malloy said. “If we want to give residents a better alternative to driving, then we need to ensure that they get the service they expect when they ride the train.”

Malloy said Donnarumma’s background gives him “ the experience to improve customer service, and identify and implement improvements to all areas of this branch to ensure a better level of customer satisfaction that Waterbury Branch riders deserve.”