Repairs could impact Metro North service for weeks

UPDATED WEDNESDAY 5 p.m —  With jammed highways and packed trains, Wednesday was truly a commuter’s nightmare with no electrical service between Stamford and Grand Central Station. Now it’s looking like it may be weeks before full service is fully restored.

At a Wednesday afternoon press briefing, Gov. Dannel Malloy warned Connecticut commuters to prepare for long term problems after an electrical issue caused the suspension of service. Since Wednesday morning, diesel powered trains have been leaving Stamford for Grand Central and departing Grand Central for Stamford while making all local stops.

Power has not yet been restored to the New Haven line in that impacted area and Metro North is now planning for an evening commute without electric powered trains as well as a Thursday morning commute as well.

This will force Metro North to only be able to carry about 30% of its typical daily traffic, the governor said. He cautioned commuters that repairs could take close to three weeks to be completed and that this will force commuters to deal with less trains and more crowding.

While he said he hoped the problem could be fixed soon, Mr. Malloy said commuters should plan for lengthy delays.

“I think people need to now assume this is a long-term problem,” Mr. Malloy said on Wednesday.

Limited service through diesel locomotives running hourly in and out of Grand Central to Stamford, which began this morning, will continue. Metro-North said these trains, which depart at the top of the hour from Grand Central and 10 minutes after the top of the hour from Stamford, will make all the local stops. According to Metro-North, this will accommodate only 10% of the regular ridership on the New Haven Line, which carries close to 70,000 people during the peak morning rush every day.

Con Edison is currently working at the scene to assess the extent of the damage to the feeder line, which knocked out service, but there’s no indication yet when it will be restored. As of 12:30 on Wednesday afternoon, Metro North said it was developing a plan for trains and buses to be used as a shuttle service on Thursday.

No reason for the outage has been given yet.

“Customers should seek alternate means for travel to the city,” the railroad has told New Haven Line riders. “Customers may use the Harlem Line for travel to Grand Central Terminal.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Dannel Malloy said that alternate means should be used tonight for the evening commute. Mr. Malloy is scheduled to give a 4 p.m. briefing on the matter.

New Haven Line tickets are being honored on the Harlem Line to get into the city. Limited service is being offered between Stamford and New Haven.

No timeline has been posted for when full service will be restored. There is no estimate, either, on when electrical service to the area will be restored.

Salvatore Arena, a spokesman for the MTA told Hersam Acorn Newspapers that the incident occurred at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, leaving no electrical service on the New Haven line between the key area of Stamford and Grand Central.

Mr. Arena said that in response Metro north is starting to provide very limited diesel service, basically hourly west from Stamford and hourly going east from Grand Central at all local stops. There will be one train running every hour, making all local stops. Mr. Arena said that service will be slow and that people should still seek alternate transportation such as the Harlem line or driving into the Bronx in New York City and then using the subway to get to where they are going. Some commuters from Greenwich are also finding ways to get into the city from White Plains, N.Y.

The hourly eastbound service will be provided from Grand Central Terminal making all local stops to Stamford will start at 9:10AM.  The hourly westbound service will be provided from Stamford to Grand Central Terminal began at 9 a.m. Metro North is warning that customers should expect crowded conditions.

Traffic on Interstate 95 going toward New York City is clogged on Monday morning, with cars nearly bumper to bumper on 195 South so commuters are not expected to find any relief that way.

More information will be posted when it becomes available. Check for updates.


Hersam Acorn Newspapers’ John Kovach contributed to this story.

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