BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Metro-North commuters are getting some good news Tuesday.
Limited Metro-North Railroad and full Amtrak train service resumed at around 3 p.m. Tuesday between New York and New Haven, according to the MTA.
Regular service will resume on Wednesday, MTA Metro-North Railroad, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and Amtrak announced.
“We have one track that’s back in service and Metro-North is going to resume service on the New Haven line all the way from New York to New Haven. And that opens up the Northeast Corridor for Amtrak as well,” Metro-North spokeswoman Majorie Anders told 1010 WINS. “It’s wonderful news for the whole region and our customers and we’re delighted with the hard work.”
Since trains in both directions will have to share one track for a seven-mile stretch, delays of a couple of minutes are anticipated, Anders added.
“We’re going to be able to provide about half of the normal PM eastbound rush service to New Haven,” Anders told WCBS 880. “We will be operating normal reverse peak, in other words, hourly service coming from New Haven into New York.”
Repair work to the second track continues and is expected to be fully repaired sometime Tuesday evening, said Anders. The track will then undergo hours of testing but is expected to be ready in time for the Wednesday morning commute.
Amtrak also resumed service between New York and New Haven, Conn.Regularly scheduled operations will commence with the departure of Acela Express train 2171, leaving Boston at 3:15 p.m., and Acela Express train 2166 departing New York at 4 p.m.
“Amtrak applauds the tireless efforts of Metro-North Railroad to quickly repair the tracks and other pieces of critical infrastructure, providing a vital transportation service to the region,” Amtrak said in a statement.
Amtrak service between New Haven, Conn., and New York was suspended indefinitely following a collision involving Metro-North Railroad trains near Bridgeport, Conn., on Friday, May 17.
Many commuters Tuesday were happy to hear the news.
“I thought the weekend or maybe next week, but I’m surprised it’s going to be up and running,” one Stratford resident said. Better “For me, I don’t have to go through this any more.”
Connecticut lawmakers plan hearings on the crash on the rail network they say is in need of extensive improvements.
Members of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee said they have been briefed by state transportation officials over the years about the hefty investment Connecticut needs to make to fully upgrade the commuter rail line, including a couple of 100-year-old bridges that need to be replaced.
“It’s like anything else, you know,” said Rep. Tony Guerrera, co-chairman of the committee. “You can have a brand-new car and it runs great, but if the roads are awful, with potholes going up and down, what good is it?”
The Metro-North crash at rush hour Friday evening injured 72 people, including one who remained in critical condition Monday. It snarled commutes for roughly 30,000 people who normally use the train, forcing travelers to navigate a patchwork of cars, trains and buses.
For Gary Maddin, the drive from his home in Milford, Conn., to the Bridgeport train station normally takes 20 minutes. On Monday, it took an hour. Then he had a shuttle bus and a train ride before he got to his destination, Grand Central Terminal in New York.
“It’s a lot,” he said. “It’s a nightmare just to get into the city.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said resumption of rail service is “tremendously good news.”
“We’re most concerned about the commerce and safety of our citizens and making sure we get through one more day and at the same time celebrating we’ll be up and running on Wednesday,” he said.
Some commuters used a jury-rigged alternative that is to continue Tuesday: A shuttle train ran between New Haven and Bridgeport, where a bus connection to Stamford circumvented the accident scene, and finally customers boarded a train for New York.
Others drove themselves and state officials nervously watched heavy traffic on Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway.
But transportation officials were pleased that area highways were not as choked as they feared, Malloy said. He said commuters heeded his warning over the weekend about the prospect of highways becoming parking lots if all 30,000 of the usual train riders drove instead.
Backups on the Merritt Parkway, a secondary route through Connecticut, were less than on an average Monday, and I-95 was only slightly more jammed than usual because of fog, he said.
Crews have worked around the clock since Saturday, and track rebuilding has progressed quickly, officials with the Metro-North railroad said.
“We’ve actually made great progress in terms of the work that’s needed to restore the catenary wires, power, working on signals, and obviously the track that needs to be completely re-laid,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.
Federal investigators arrived Saturday and were expected to be on site for seven to 10 days. They are looking at a broken section of rail to see if it is connected to the derailment and collision. Officials said it wasn’t clear whether the rail was broken in the crash or earlier.
Connecticut Transportation Commissioner James Redeker told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane that cell phone video from the crash scene may help the investigation and the response to future incidents.
“It could be months before all of the analysis and investigation and conclusions are found,” Redeker said. “So at this point, really, there’s nothing that we know that’s definitive.”
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