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Train Riders Brace for Metro-North Changes

Regular Metro-North rider Ester Gaddis is not looking forward to her commute in to Westport on Monday morning when a Reduced Winter Schedule takes effect on the New Haven Line. Morning and afternoon peak trains will be cut by 10 percent until March 7.

"I really don't know what to expect," said Gaddis, an Ansonia resident who works in Westport. "The trains are already overcrowded."

Wild winter weather this season has caused an onslaught of complications on the New Haven Line. About half of Metro-North's 337 train cars are out of service because of such problems as frozen brakes, doors jammed by ice and traction motors that need to be replaced.

"The situation is dire," Metro-North President Howard Permut said in a letter announcing the reduced schedule. "Our employees are working around-the-clock to get damaged equipment back into service. However, with each new weather event, more weather-damaged cars arrive in our shops in need of repair."

On top of the nasty weather, Permut said that about 70 percent of the rail cars are more than 40 years old.

Gaddis said she understands that unexpected problems arise, especially because of the weather. But she's wondering when the new M-8 rail cars, which were supposed to go into service in December, will hit the tracks.

"We've been hearing about these new cars for months, so what ever happened to them?" she asked.

Unlike Gaddis, Weston resident Jason Alper said he's not too concerned about the reduced schedule.

Alper, who works in New York City, said he takes the same train every morning. And from what he can tell, his personal schedule won't be disrupted too much.

"I've looked at the schedule, and it seems the only difference is the 6:15 [a.m.] train was changed to 6:14," Alper said. "There will probably be more crowding because of fewer cars, but it doesn't seem to be a big deal."

How was your commute Monday? Did you experience a big change? Tell us about it!

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