News

Metro-North Commuters To Feel More Pain On Morning Commute

Repairs To Power Feeder Line Expected To Take Weeks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Metro-North will only be able to accommodate about one-third of the regular ridership on the New Haven line for Thursday’s commute and for the foreseeable future due to a power problem that crippled service on Wednesday, the agency announced.

The commuter rail will offer limited bus and train service for the New Haven line starting on Thursday morning, Metro-North said.

New Haven line tickets will continue to be cross-honored on the Harlem line as a result of the power issue.

Links: MTA Service Map | Latest Transit Info

Bus service will be provided on the Waterbury branch and limited shuttle train service will operate on the Danbury and New Canaan branches.

Beginning Thursday, Metro-North announced the following modified schedule:

AM Peak Service

To Grand Central

From New Haven to Stamford train service will be provided every 20-30 minutes and will connect with:

  • Limited diesel train service from Stamford operating directly to Harlem-125th Street and Grand Central Terminal
  • Limited local train service every 20-30 minutes from Stamford through Rye Stations; connecting with express bus service to White Plains Station for Harlem line train service to Grand Central

From Harrison to Grand Central Terminal service will be provided as follows:

  • Limited local train service every 20-30 minutes from Harrison through New Rochelle Stations and operating directly to Fordham, Harlem-125th Street and Grand Central Terminal
  • Bus Service from Pelham and Mount Vernon East to Mount Vernon West for Harlem line train service

From Grand Central

Limited diesel train service will be provided every 30-40 minutes from Grand Central Terminal and making all local stops to Stamford; with hourly connections at Stamford for train service to New Haven.

Off-Peak Service

To Grand Central

Hourly shuttle service between New Haven (departing every 45 minutes after the hour) and Stamford with local train service operating every half hour between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal.

From Grand Central

Train service operating every half hour (:04 and :34 after the hour) out of Grand Central making all local stops to Stamford with hourly connections at Stamford for train service to New Haven.

PM Peak Service

From Grand Central to Stamford/New Haven

  • Limited service from Grand Central direct to Stamford with connections to New Haven provided every 20-30 minutes.
  • Harlem line Service to White Plains Station with express bus service to Rye Station for local train service between Rye and Stamford operating every 20-30 minutes

From Grand Central to Harrison

  • Limited train service from Grand Central to New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck and Harrison Stations
  • Harlem line train service to Mount Vernon West for Bus Service to Pelham and Mount Vernon East Stations

REPAIRS ‘COULD TAKE WEEKS’

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday advised commuters to plan for days of problems, after a power problem left hundreds of commuters stranded during the morning rush.

At a news conference, Malloy advised people to stay home and telecommute if possible. He said he was “frustrated” on behalf of everyone who uses the Metro-North line, but people have no choice but to plan for alternatives.

“Plan on a long-term lack of service or being underserved,” Malloy said. “To the extent that you can, stay home the next couple of days and telecommute.”

Bus and diesel service is also available to shuttle commuters to the Harlem line where tickets will be honored, and carpooling is also advised, Malloy said.

Malloy said it is not known how long the repairs will take. But he said he wants people to assume the problem will be prolonged.

Con Edison said in a statement that “repairs of this nature typically take 2-3 weeks.” The utility posted a photo on Twitter on Wednesday night of a crew working to repair a power feeder line.

A Con Edison crew works to repair a feeder cable in Mount Vernon on Sept. 25, 2013. (credit: Con Ed)

A Con Edison crew works to repair a feeder cable in Mount Vernon on Sept. 25, 2013. (credit: Con Ed)

“Con Ed is somewhat in the blind at the moment until we understand the full extent of the damage caused by the incident today,” Malloy said.

Malloy explained that one of the power feeder lines was taken offline as it was in the process of being replaced due to construction work that was under way. The other feeder line that remained in place had a critical problem that caused the outage, and the extent of the problem cannot presently be determined because the line is superheated and must be cooled with nitrogen before any assessment is made.

“I’m sure they’re gonna be looking at all sorts of options as to whether there are other power lines we can tie into their system, whether generators are practical,” Con Ed spokesman Mike Clendenin told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

Metro-North was to provide extremely limited service on the New Haven line for the remainder of Wednesday.

Con Edison said it is working with Metro-North to establish alternative power sources to serve the New Haven line while crews make repairs to the failed feeder cable.

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“We apologize for the disruption, and we are working with Metro-North to help resolve the problem,” Con Ed said in a statement.

Con Ed crews investigate power outage at Metro-North substation (credit: Lou Young/CBS 2)

Con Ed crews investigate power outage at Metro-North substation (credit: Lou Young/CBS 2)

As 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported, Chris Langone of Westport, Conn., said he is planning to come in on the first train on Thursday and leave in the mid-afternoon.

“I am definitely getting out before the rush,” he said. “I do not want to deal with standing with 50 other people on a car.”

And Drew Todd said he cannot telecommute, and like Malloy advised, and was not looking forward to driving in from Norwalk.

“Hopefully, the (U.N.) General Assembly leaves a little earlier,” Todd said. “We suffer and we muddle through. We don’t really have a choice.”

Con Edison said the railroad was doing work on the Mount Vernon substation when a feeder cable failed around 5:20 a.m. Another feeder that normally provides service to the New Haven line was already down for repairs.

COMMUTERS FACED MORNING RUSH NIGHTMARE

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, the promise has been one train an hour, but the reality has proved to be a little different.

“They just go right on past,” one commuter heading in to Grand Central said. “This one we’re hopefully getting on.”

He didn’t finish his morning commute until noon, Young reported.

The diesel trains bypassing some stations on Wednesday morning were jammed with riders from further up the line.

Frustrated passengers were left waiting at Grand Central and other New Haven line stations after service was suspended in both directions at the height of the morning commute.

“Are they going to pay me for my time? Because I’m paying for their services, but yet they’re not going to pay me for being late,” one man waiting at Grand Central told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

“If they had made announcements at other stations I probably wouldn’t have gotten on the train,” passenger Nana Insaitoo said.

“It is chaotic, confusing, tiring,” said passenger Sherna Channer.

One commuter said he was three hours late to work as a result of the power issue.

“My first meeting was at 8 o’clock. That’s been pushed back til 2,” Marty Flannigan told Young.

Limited service was eventually restored around 9:30 a.m. on the New Haven line between Stamford and Grand Central using diesel locomotives, forcing thousands of commuters to cram onto crowded trains while others scrambled to find another way to work.

As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, there were longer lines than normal at the information booth at Grand Central on Wednesday afternoon as commuters tried to figure out how to get home.

“It was packed, people were sitting on the floor. It was a mess,” one commuter trying to get home from Grand Central said.

Railroad officials were warning customers trains will be crowded and were advising commuters to seek alternative means of travel.

Mike Gibson said: “I just walked all the way to end of the train. There’s not a single spot on the entire train from beginning to end.”

Crowded platform at the Stamford station on Sept. 25, 2013. (credit: Weijia Jiang/CBS 2)

Crowded platform at the Stamford station on Sept. 25, 2013. (credit: Weijia Jiang/CBS 2)

New Haven line tickets were being cross-honored on the Harlem line on Wednesday and that will remain in place, Metro-North announced.

Amtrak was also experiencing delays on the Northeast Corridor because of the power problem.

Some Northeast Regional trains are operating on diesel power through the affected area, Amtrak said. Acela Express service is suspended between New York and Boston. The limited service will continue on Thursday, Amtrak announced on Wednesday evening.

Additional cars are being added to Northeast Regional trains to accommodate displaced Acela Express passengers, according to Amtrak. Passengers should expect delays of up to one hour due to the diesel operation.

Service between New York and Washington was also running with delays, but is expected to resume normal service on Thursday, Amtrak said.

New Haven line direct service to and from Yankee Stadium is canceled for Wednesday night.

Of Metro-North’s 282,000 riders, 140,000 use the New Haven line.

This is the third time in recent months there has been major trouble for Metro-North riders.

In July, 10 cars from a freight train derailed between Metro-North’s Spuyten Duyvil and Marble Hill stations, causing delays for several days.

And in May, two Metro-North trains collided near Bridgeport after one derailed, injuring dozens of passengers.

“For the most part, the trains seem to be fairly on time, but when they go down, they go down hard,” commuter Peter Hyjek told Carrasco.

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