All Aboard The Black Hog Express!

Paul Bass Photo

Paul Bass Photo. Malloy with DOT chief James Redeker at Tuesday’s event.

Black Hog brews: Train-bound?

The bar car is returning to the New Haven Line — and the governor plans to stock it with local craft beers.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made that declaration at a press event Tuesday afternoon at New Haven’s railyard.

He announced that (assuming the Bond Commission rubber-stamps the request) the state plans to borrow $200 million toward buying 60 new cars for the Metro-North New Haven line. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority would add about another $108 million for the purchase. The new cars, to arrive between September 2019 and March 2021, will add 6,000 extra seats a day to the line’s busy trains: The New Haven Line carried a record 40.3 million passengers last year, the amount the state originally predicted reaching in 2021.

“Our future hinges” on upgrading rail along with the full transportation network, Malloy said. “This is critical” to economic growth. The intention is to lengthen each train, rather than necessarily add more daily routes, he said.

Ten of the new cars are to be retrofitted as cafe-bar cars. Metro-North removed the last bar cars in 2014.

“It’s part of our history,” Malloy said of the bar cars. “It’s part of our culture. It’s part of our fun. … It’s part of the tradition of this line.”

Malloy said the state plans to include craft beers from Connecticut breweries in the bar cars. An aide later said that has very much been part of the planning, and that the Department of Transportation has the authority to make that call.

Asked to name a local craft beer he’d want to see for sale in the bar cars, Malloy deferred comment. He said he didn’t want “to get in trouble.”

Jason Sobocinski, the New Haven restaurateur who launched Black Hog Brewery, praised Malloy’s plan.

“Connecticut has an unbelievable selection of local beers. You’ve got Black Hog, Back East, Two Roads, Stony Creek, New England Brewing Co., Thimble Island … And that’s just in our little neck of the woods. I feel like I find out about a new brewery at least once a month in Connecticut,” Sobocinski said. “I think it would be great exposure. There are going to be plenty of people coming from New York into Connecticut and vice versa who don’t know about the great availability of craft beer [here]. …  This is going to be a great way to showcase the breweries.”

Informed of the New Haven Line’s 40.3 million annual passenger trips, Sobocinski remarked, “Even if you had 10 percent of the people grab a beer, even 5 percent of people … that’s a lot of beer. I’m going to need a new brewery!”

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