New York-Area Commuter Railroads Come Back to Life After Hurricane Irene

Railroads that bring more than 800,000 weekday commuters into New York City are resuming most service after transit workers pumped water off tracks, cleared fallen trees and restored power in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Metro-North Railroad resumed full weekday rail service on its Hudson line and the main branch of its New Haven Line, and is running Harlem trains as far north as the Southeast station north of Brewster. That represents more than 85 percent of its peak morning riders, according to Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman. Service on the Port Jervis line is suspended indefinitely after track beds were washed out by flooding, she said.

New Jersey Transit said in a statement that crews worked through the night to restore most service by rush hour. On the Northeast Corridor line, trains will operate only between New Brunswick and New York because of flooding in Trenton, the agency said in an e-mailed statement.

The MTA’s Long Island Rail Road, the busiest commuter line in the U.S. with 345,000 weekday riders on 11 routes, restored all or part of services on seven yesterday.

LIRR service remains suspended between Port Jefferson and Huntington, and between Greenport and Ronkonkoma, and on the Long Beach, Oyster Bay, and Montauk branches. There will be no diesel train service to Hunterspoint Avenue or Long Island City, the MTA said on its website.

Photographer: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

LIRR service remains suspended between Port Jefferson and Huntington, and between Greenport and Ronkonkoma, and on the Long Beach, Oyster Bay, and Montauk branches. There will be no diesel train service to Hunterspoint Avenue or Long Island City, the MTA said on its website. Close

LIRR service remains suspended between Port Jefferson and Huntington, and between... Read More

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Photographer: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

LIRR service remains suspended between Port Jefferson and Huntington, and between Greenport and Ronkonkoma, and on the Long Beach, Oyster Bay, and Montauk branches. There will be no diesel train service to Hunterspoint Avenue or Long Island City, the MTA said on its website.

Highways

On the highways, all major arteries and river crossings into and out of New York City were flowing normally, according to Shadow Traffic. Some low-lying roads in Northern and Central New Jersey were flooded in parts, with lane closures and detours slowing commuters, particularly around Wayne and Parsippany, Shadow Traffic reported.

“Metro-North had some major challenges,” said Bill Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA. “They had mud slides, they had flooding, I think they were waiting for the locusts next.”

Metro-North brings 286,000 commuters on an average weekday to New York from the northern suburbs and Connecticut. The MTA cleared a mudslide 10 feet (3 meters) deep that covered two tracks at the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx only to have more mud come down, Anders said.

New York’s MTA, the biggest U.S. transit agency, said service on the Metro-North’s Upper Harlem, New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury lines remained suspended.

Electrical substations were flooded and transmission poles were damaged on the Harlem line, which connects Grand Central to the Westchester towns of Scarsdale and Chappaqua, Anders said. Parking lots adjacent to stations were inundated, as streams and the Bronx River continued to overflow their banks.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, most commuter rail lines -- including the Morris & Essex, Main/Bergen County, Pascack Valley, Montclair/Boonton and North Jersey Coast -- were expected to resume a regular schedule this morning, subject to delays, according to a statement from New Jersey Transit.

The Northeast Corridor will be limited to runs between New Brunswick and New York City because of flooded tracks at the Trenton Transit Center.

“Fifty percent of the trains that are used on the Northeast Corridor are on the other side of the Trenton Transit Center,” in a storage yard in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, Penny Bassett Hackett, a spokeswoman for New Jersey Transit, said in a telephone interview. “We just don’t have the equipment.”

The cars were stashed there to prevent hurricane damage, and engineers have no estimates for when they could be returned to New Jersey, she said.

Sinkhole

Near the Aberdeen-Matawan station, 37 miles (59 kilometers) from Manhattan, crews were filling a 35-foot-wide sinkhole with 500 tons of stone, Bassett Hackett said. Systemwide, crews removed 400 trees that had fallen on the tracks.

New York subways reopened yesterday after the first shutdown since a strike in 2005, and buses started returning at 4 p.m. Aug. 28.

Henderson, the executive director of the MTA advisory committee, gave the transit agency good marks in dealing with the storm.

“They had some big issues to deal with and they dealt with them,” he said. “It’s a combination of good strategy, work and luck. They were very close in Lower Manhattan to having a situation where they would have some flooded tunnels and could have had some real damage from the salt water.”

-- With assistance from Martin Z. Braun in New York. Editors: James Kraus, Peter Branton

To contact the reporters on this story: Peter S. Green in New York at psgreen@bloomberg.net; Elise Young in Trenton at eyoung30@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net.

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