NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Metro-North will return to its regular weekday schedule for Friday following repairs to elevated train tracks in East Harlem that were damaged by a fire.
“After the temporary columns were put into place and fully secured, Metro-North performed a number of required test train runs over the section of damaged viaduct, and the railroad pronounced that all four tracks are ready for service for the first time since the fire, although there will be speed restrictions of 30 miles per hour for the time being,” Metro-North said in a statement.
Even though the regular schedule is returning, customers should be prepared for minor delays due to track speed restriction.
“I would like to thank our customers for bearing with us during what has been a very challenging two-and-a-half-day period,” Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti said.
Metro-North operated on an “enhanced Saturday schedule” Thursday, providing customers with additional trains during peak travel times.
The railroad said customers should expect delays and crowded conditions Thursday and is urging people to work from home or find alternate travel plans if possible.
Crews worked to finish installing six steel beams to shore up a center column beneath a viaduct holding the elevated tracks that was damaged when the blaze broke out Tuesday at a garden center.
Overnight repairs allowed for a third track to become operational as of Wednesday morning, easing some of the burden on commuters, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported. Work was completed on the fourth track late Thursday, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
“We’re still on target for completing these repairs and having full service back for morning rush hour,” MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast said.
On Wednesday, fire marshals ruled the inferno an accident, saying it was caused by fuel that was spilled on a hot generator while it was being refilled.
Metro-North reported 60- to 80-minute delays out of Grand Central heading into the Wednesday evening rush hour.
“I was packed in like a sardine,” said White Plains resident Peter Morgan. “It was horrendous.”
“It was like a crowded subway train, standing in the aisle,” one commuter told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.
This is a critical link of track that all trains travel over to get into Grand Central and because of the repairs, trains are running at half speed as they pass through the elevated stretch.
Meanwhile, some residents are questioning the city and its oversight of the property they rented to the garden supply area where the fire started.
“It’s just a disaster waiting to happen,” said resident Robert Young. “The city doesn’t do its due diligence.”
“They probably shouldn’t be doing that sort of thing underneath the track, you know?” one commuter said.
CBS2 reached out to the MTA and the city to respond to those complaints by some East Harlem residents, but has not heard back.
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