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The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has chosen a joint venture of TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts Inc. to operate and manage service on the CTrail Hartford Line, a passenger-rail route that will run between New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass. Currently under construction, the Hartford Line is scheduled to launch in May 2018, according to a press release issued by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy's office.CTDOT selected the firms after a service provider bidding process and cost-benefit analysis. The agreement marks the first time the department has contracted with a private service provider to operate a rail line.Using a contractor is a more cost-efficient alternative to creating a separate internal unit and hiring employees to manage the Hartford Line, according to the release.Amtrak will remain responsible for maintaining the railroad infrastructure, including track signals, train dispatching and right-of-way security. The 64-mile route will serve as a regional link between existing rail services, including MTA Metro North Railroad, Shore Line East and Amtrak's Acela high-speed services. "We are getting closer each day to launching commuter-rail service between New Haven, Hartford, and our friends in Springfield — a service that we’ve needed in the central Connecticut area for decades and will finally allow an option to move people, goods, and services with greater ease," Malloy said. Together, TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts serve 57 million riders each year in the United States. Their combined operations and maintenance services include commuter-rail contracts in San Francisco, Denver and Boston, along with light-rail, heavy-rail and streetcar contracts throughout the country.In March, Valley Metro approved a five-year contract with Alternate Concepts to provide rail transportation service for the agency's 26-mile system in Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa, Arizona.