Metro-North Fix May Take Weeks as Riders Left to Scramble

Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

Commuters exit a Metro-North Railroad train at Grand Central Terminal in New York, on Sept. 19, 2013. Close

Commuters exit a Metro-North Railroad train at Grand Central Terminal in New York, on Sept. 19, 2013.

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Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

Commuters exit a Metro-North Railroad train at Grand Central Terminal in New York, on Sept. 19, 2013.

Metro-North Railroad trains filled to capacity on the New Haven Line, with many riders standing, after failure of an electrical cable limited service from Connecticut to New York for as long as three weeks.

Diesel trains ran about every half-hour today, supplemented by buses, and were able to accommodate only about one-third of the daily ridership of 130,000, according to New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs Metro-North.

Tickets were being honored on the Harlem Line, which runs through Westchester County, adjacent to Connecticut. This afternoon, Metro-North released a new evening schedule on its Twitter feed.

Consolidated Edison Inc., (ED) which supplies electricity to the New York metropolitan area, said it is working to arrange temporary power to replace the cable that failed yesterday at the start of morning rush hour. The utility said a second 138-kilovolt feeder, which could have been used as a backup, was down for maintenance.

“We’re exploring different ways of getting power to that section of railway and have a lot of people deployed in that area,” Bob McGee, a company spokesman, said today in a phone interview. He declined to estimate how long power would be out or discuss what temporary fixes are being considered.

May Derailment

It’s at least the second major disruption on the New Haven Line this year. On May 17, two trains collided near the Bridgeport-Fairfield border, injuring at least 75. As many as 30,000 Metro-North users had to find alternative commutes for five days.

Amtrak canceled its Acela Express trains between New York and Boston through Sept. 29. Northeast Regional service will run on diesel power, and Amtrak will refund passengers for Acela Express tickets, the company said today in a statement.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, told state residents to plan for weeks of limited service from New Haven to Grand Central station in Manhattan. Today, he halted routine maintenance on Interstate 95, the Merritt Parkway and other roads to accommodate the increased congestion stemming from the train disruption.

“People need to now assume this is a long-term problem,” Malloy said yesterday at a news briefing in Hartford. “Plan on a long-term lack of service.”

There was no indication that work being done on the second cable, which was taken off line earlier this month, led to the outage,McGee of Con Edison said. The utility will need weeks to repair the failed 138-kilovolt line because it runs through a trench, he said.

At Grand Central (GRAN) today, Mark Glidden, a 70-year-old marriage and family-counseling psychotherapist, said he typically arrives in Manhattan shortly after 7 a.m. on the New Haven Line and couldn’t risk missing morning appointments by traveling on the limited-service trains.

“I stayed over at my office yesterday,” said the Southport resident. “I had to.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Priya Anand in New York at panand20@bloomberg.net; Mark Chediak in San Francisco at mchediak@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net; Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net.

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