HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Some Connecticut lawmakers have urged Metro-North Railroad to fix its problems or risk losing its contract with the state.
As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, Metro-North riders have dealt with derailments, power outages and stranded commuters over the past several months. That has some lawmakers drawing a line in the sand.
State Rep. Tony Guerrera, who co-chairs the Transportation Committee said Metro-North is not honoring its end of the bargain.
“Gave Metro-North a good amount of money for the contract and we feel as though they’re not fulfilling their contract. And that’s very upsetting. It’s upsetting to me, it’s upsetting to the people that ride that train every day,” he told Schneidau.
Guerrera is among those now looking to the incoming Metro-North president to make things right. Joseph Giulietti starts next week.
Gov. Dannel Malloy said he’s also pushing the agency to do better.
“We are putting pressure on Metro-North. I will be sitting down with the new president in a matter of days, a meeting that I demanded take place, along with the head of MTA, Mr. Prendergast. They have to hold themselves accountable,” the governor told Schneidau.
Malloy said he will express his concerns about the commuter rail’s operation.
A derailment in Bridgeport injured scores of people and another in the Bronx in December left four people dead.
In addition, passengers were stranded twice in January by a power outage and downed wires.
Malloy noted he’s encouraged by Giulietti’s track record.
Meantime, Connecticut is launching a $10 million project upgrading the power supply on Metro-North’s New Haven line to prevent a repeat of an outage that disrupted service for nearly two weeks last September.
Gov. Malloy said Sunday the work will begin Monday. He cited a failed electrical circuit in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., that cut power to the New Haven line in September, forcing the rail line to reduce the number of trains.
Officials also are acting in advance of the New Haven-Springfield passenger line that is expected to operate by 2016.
“In anticipation of adding even more service on this state-owned rail corridor, we want to ensure riders have as safe and reliable a commute as possible and prevent the major system interruptions that we experienced in September,” the governor said.
Metro-North runs the New Haven line under a contract with the state Department of Transportation and will manage the project with Connecticut Light & Power. The utility will install new transformers.
Metro-North has prepared project management and contingency plans, including substitute service plans in the event of any power issues. The rail line and CL&P have developed an accelerated schedule for replacing two transformers, beginning Monday. It’s expected to be completed within 16 days. Replacing the second transformer will begin immediately after and will be wrapped up by mid-March.
Metro-North’s New Haven Line is the busiest single rail line in the United States, state transportation officials said. It provided 38.8 million customer trips in 2012, an increase of 4 percent in ridership in 2010. Last year, the New Haven Line carried a daily average of about 106,000 riders.
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