There is currently a $1 million study underway to examine the legitimacy of establishing a train connection between Danbury, CT and Brewster, NY. The Maybrook Line used to be a cargo connection between the Hat City and Brewster.

There are folks in both CT and NY that believe it will help commuters save time and think it will benefit the local economy. There are also people who say it's a waste of time and money. The more we talk about it, the more feedback we get from our Ethan and Lou Show listeners.

I had two individuals reach out to me recently about the issue and they did so independently.  I'm going to refer to one of them as "Person 1." That person would like to remain anonymous.

WRKI and WINE logo
Get our free mobile app

In no way am I saying these are facts, I'm simply telling you what they told me. These people took the time and cared enough to send these and I think it's valid to present their opinions.

Jeffrey Smith (this e-mail was sent to one of my co-workers who got it to me): 

"My name is Jeff Smith, a former resident of Danbury and former and future resident of Stamford. I also own the railfan website 
We've been following the recent drama about this proposal in a discussion thread here. Lou Milano is doing a great job of getting feedback on the project from both the current and former Mayor. However, there is one point to be considered that hasn't yet been raised, and that either of the Mayors or Mr. Milano may not be aware of.
Metro-North has proposed abandoning the entire portion of the line within New York State for a Rail Trail. The Housatonic Railroad which owns the line in Connecticut, and has freight rights on the portion in NYS, has signaled its opposition. In the past they have proposed running their own passenger service on the line connecting at Southeast.
I am not aware if CT-DOT is aware of this. Metro-North currently only uses this branch for movement of equipment between Danbury and the Harlem Line. The most recent time I can recall is when there was a washout on the Danbury branch, which was several years ago. I'm not sure whether they intend to rip up rails on this segment. I did leave a comment on the Facebook post Mr. Milano made concerning former Mayor Boughton's response to James Cameron, but it may not have been seen.
In any case, I thought I could provide this lead to you and Mr. Milano to cover, and get the response of "the Mayors".
Smith Continued: 
"This stretch of rail is vital to present and future transportation needs for Danbury and potentially even Newtown, Brookfield, and New Milford. Abandoning the section in New York precludes its future use. Once the track is gone and the trail goes in, it's next to impossible to reclaim."
Person 1 wrote:

"Hey Lou,

I really don’t want to get involved or certainly credited for this but I have to weigh in about Train Wars.

The Maybrook line kind of meets up with the Harlem line. If you notice when you go over 84 west from Danbury, there is a set of tracks you go over and then another is the single line track to Wassaic. These 2 tracks meet up about a mile north. So a train technically could meet and go down to southeast or grand central. Now the conditions of these tracks are horrendous. I don’t think anything should be on it right now. And last I knew, we abandoned the line which is always subject to change.

However, with time and material, new rail and wood ties and it’s up to par fairly quickly and easily. Even adding electric should be easy enough to do since it not in operation at the moment or you could always start diesel and then move to electric later. Will this save people time in a commute? An hour? No, I don’t see it. It takes a train approximately 1:45 min to get to the Grand Central Terminal from Danbury and 1:30 from Southeast. The time going across will not help you travel south if you get what I’m saying.

That said, I do believe it is great to have the option for the area and to limit 84 East-west traffic. I know I would potentially use it instead of my drive, so I’m on board! I’d be happy to answer more questions if you like, but please do not mention me on air."

 Person 1 shared some information that lead me to believe he may have more information than your average commuter or resident and I appreciate the feedback from them and from Jeffrey Smith. You saw that they referred to our coverage as a "drama" and as the "Train Wars".
This is because I've been calling it "Danbury Train Wars 2021" on the Ethan and Lou Show and it has been dramatic.
We started the conversation after reading an opinion piece in the CT Mirror titled: "The Maybrook Rail Line Study is a Waste of $1 million." The article was written by Jim Cameron who describes himself as a "train guy" but does not care for the plan or it's associated study and has been critical of former Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.
Bougton has been a vocal proponent of the Maybrook proposal. Cameron had this to say of Boughton and the plan:
"But Boughton’s dream has about as much of a grip on reality as Gov. Ned Lamont’s wishful 30-30-30 plan (30 minutes from Stamford to GCT, etc).  It just isn’t physically possible.  And I won’t need a million bucks to tell you why."
"You know, I did read that piece by the way and apparently, everybody's an expert, everybody's an engineer, but you know I actually listen to the engineers and the experts who have looked at this and know that it will save. Whether it's 45 minutes or an hour, whatever, a significant time off their commute. I think that, I'm not really sure, this guy, he's against everything, he just wrote another piece against being against something else," said the Hat City's former mayor. "He's just a miserable person and I don't care what he thinks, who cares?"
Danbury Mayor Joe Cavo defended the Maybrook Line study, saying:

"Well, I'm really excited because in my time as Mayor since the early part of January, the million dollar study award was granted. The grant was appointed to a company to start the study and we're excited about the possibilities that the Maybrook Line could bring to Danbury and New Milford.

You know, for both commuter rail as well as time traveled to New York, less traffic on our interstates, especially at that interchange of 84 and 684. I just think that, we think it has a tremendous amount of possibilities and so we're excited about the study going forward and we'll be waiting anxiously to see the outcome of that."

In our conversations with the current and former Mayor, I get the impression that there is a lot more to the Maybrook proposal than just speeding up commute times. I keep hearing about alleviating traffic issues and bolstering local business.

I'm learning as I go, I love trains but I'm not a "train guy", not an engineer, nor am I a person who has worked on transportation projects. I am a person that can tell you a lot of people are watching and waiting to see the results of this study.

We started talking about this on February 24 and everyday since I've gotten e-mail after e-mail from people asking for more information or providing their opinion on the topic. Keep the e-mails and direct messages coming, we will continue to follow the story where it goes.

UPDATE: We share Ethan & Lou listener thoughts in new segment (3/4/21)

We have talked about this a lot.

Boughton's reaction to Jim Cameron:

Joe Cavo's thoughts:

P.S. If this train line is ever put in place, I promise we will do an Ethan and Lou Show from the one of the train cars and just ride the rail back and forth all day.

The Most Famous Inmates To Serve Time in Danbury

More From WRKI and WINE