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Metro-North New Haven Line Upgrades Almost Done

Meanwhile, U.S. Lawmakers Proposes Rail Safety Legislation
An M-8 rail car on the Metro-North Railroad's  New Haven line (file/credit: Patrick Cashin/MTA)

An M-8 rail car on the Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven line (file/credit: Patrick Cashin/MTA)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A major upgrade to Metro-North’s New Haven line is nearly complete — and it should help reduce the number of stalled trains on the commuter railroad.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau on Tuesday that work on an 8-mile stretch of overhead catenary wires between Bridgeport and Southport is wrapping up.

“Most of the track will return to four lanes, or four tracks, as opposed to the two that they have been running on in the greater Bridgeport area,” Malloy told Schneidau.

Eighty percent of the wires have been replaced, and the tracks are set to reopen during peak hours when the new schedule takes effect this weekend — the first time since 2010 that all four tracks in the area will be used.

The wires provide electricity to run the trains from New York to New Haven. The governor pointed out that the old wires, in place since the turn of the 20th century, were subject to overheating in very hot weather. Sagging catenaries were to blame for many stalled trains.

Malloy said the upgrade will mean more reliable rail service as a hot summer approaches.

“This is an important step in getting safety and on-time performance to where it needs to be once again,” Malloy said.

Meanwhile Tuesday, four members of Congress announced legislation to improve rail safety following two fatal accidents and other incidents on Metro-North.

Connecticut Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes and Elizabeth Esty and New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney announced Tuesday a proposal requiring control cabs to have a fail-safe device sounding an alarm when a train engineer seems idle while the train is in motion.

It requires rail carriers to develop a fatigue risk plan and report on progress for technology that can slow or stop a train not being operated correctly.

Redundant signal protection for track workers also would be required.

“We can’t do enough to make our rails safer,” Maloney, D-Newburgh, told WCBS 880. “And there are real things we can do. The first thing we should do is positive train controls so we don’t rely on any one human being. And we need other redundant safety systems.”

A Metro-North spokesman did not immediately comment.

In May 2013, a track worker was killed in Connecticut, and in December four passengers died in a Bronx derailment.

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