Metro-North Issues 'A Word About Service' To New Haven Line Train Riders

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On Jan. 23, all Metro-North trains were stopped due to a computer problem, and screens at Grand Central Terminal said, 'Please wait for announcement.'
On Jan. 23, all Metro-North trains were stopped due to a computer problem, and screens at Grand Central Terminal said, 'Please wait for announcement.' Photo Credit: File

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- In a post on its website, Metro-North offers "a word about your service" to frustrated Fairfield County train riders on its New Haven Line. 

The post put up Tuesday opens with an admission that problems have plagued the commuter railroad starting with the derailment last May on the Fairfield-Bridgeport border and continuing more recently with late and stranded trains due to bad weather, computer problems and power failures. 

The letter opens with:

"Many of you have recently asked about the consistency of the service we have been providing, and with good reason.

"Trains that once arrived like clockwork now arrive late. This poor reliability has taken its toll on your commute and we want to answer your questions and explain what is going on." 

Metro-North said it is engaged in an extensive systemwide review of safety and operating practices and have addressed a number of problem areas.

"We have used state-of-the-art technology to perform a complete and comprehensive assessment of our track on all three lines. With this information, we have developed prioritized maintenance programs, keeping our right-of-way safe and in a state of good repair," he said.

Work continues on tracks that have been identified as needing repairs and causing speed restrictions.

"On the New Haven Line, where the reliability needs the most improvement, ongoing critical infrastructure work continues to affect our ability to operate trains on the busiest rail line in the United States," Metro-North said. "The current phase of the Connecticut Department of Transportation's project to replace the overhead catenary wire between Southport and Bridgeport now continues until May."

There is less capacity to operate trains with two of the four tracks in this 7-mile area out of service and temporary speed restrictions in place.

Also, at the Walk Bridge in Norwalk, a more than 100-year-old swing bridge, speed restrictions have remained in place since last summer as ongoing repairs continue.

After the Dec. 1 derailment, Metro-North put speed restrictions in place and made changes to its operating practices at the five movable bridges on the New Haven Line. 

Metro-North also blamed the sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice for causing signal and switch problems on all three lines, especially on the New Haven Line's 100-year-old catenary wires and five moveable bridges.

The railroad promised to make new schedules for spring based on an analysis of operating conditions and taking into account the status of its ongoing projects.

You can read the full statement at the Metro-North website.

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Ironic that MN has used "state-of-the-art technology to perform a complete and comprehensive assessment of our track on all three lines" and yet has not replaced 100-year-old cantenary lines that cause problems during extreme heat and cold spells. And there must be some technology to allow for heat devices to be implanted in third rails and switches so they wouldn't freeze.