Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
Power Outage Hobbles Metro-North's New Haven Line; Repair Could Take Weeks
Amtrak Acela service also affected
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 12:48 PM
It could take weeks to restore the broken power equipment on the nation's busiest commuter rail line.
Early Wednesday morning a feeder cable failed, cutting power on Metro-North's New Haven line. Power provider Con Edison says typically repairs to feeder lines take two to three weeks.
"Obviously, there are going to be alternative solutions that are going to be developed for getting things back up to speed as quickly as possible," said Con Ed spokesman Bob McGee, who added that Con Ed engineers were working in tandem with the MTA.
Adam Lisberg, a spokesman for the MTA, said the power outage would last "hopefully not weeks, but at least for days."
Currently, the MTA is operating diesel trains instead -- but there are fewer of those trains, and they can only accommodate a fraction of riders. Forty thousand commuters typically use the New Haven Line each weekday. The diesel service being operated as a backup can handle about 4,000. Beginning Thursday morning, the MTA will add buses to the mix -- but even that will only accommodate a third of the line's riders. An MTA press release bluntly encouraged customers to "stay home or seek alternative service." A tweet Wednesday evening read "telecommute if possible."
Standing room only on an evening diesel train to Stamford/Ilya Marritz
The outage is also affecting Amtrak, which now can't operate electric-powered Acela trains between New York and Boston. However, its diesel-powered Northeast Regional trains are running, albeit with delays.
The MTA is posting updates on its website.
It wasn't immediately clear why the feeder failed. A Con Ed spokesperson said the cause is under investigation. What is clear is that the power outage comes at a bad time: another feeder, which could have provided backup, is already out on scheduled repairs.
Starting Thursday morning, the MTA will provide limited bus and diesel train service on the New Haven Line. Per the agency:
Because of the loss of a Con Edison feeder that supplies electricity to the overhead wires that power the New Haven Line, MTA Metro-North Railroad will provide limited bus/train service for the New Haven Line beginning with morning rush hour service on Thursday, September 26, and until further notice.
Metro-North is working with Con Edison to try to establish alternative power sources to serve the New Haven Line. Con Ed crews are working around the clock to make repairs to a feeder cable that failed earlier today. Another feeder normally providing service to the New Haven Line was out on scheduled repairs to accommodate upgrades required by Metro-North.
The service plan can accommodate approximately 33% of the regular ridership on the New Haven Line.
As a result:
- Customers are strongly encouraged to stay home or should seek alternate service
- New Haven Line tickets will continue to be cross-honored on the Harlem Line
- Customers should expect crowded conditions and should listen for announcements at their station
Bus service will be provided on the Waterbury Branch and limited shuttle train service will operate on the Danbury and New Canaan Branches.
AM Peak Service
To Grand Central
From New Haven to Stamford train service will be provided every 20-30 minutes and will connect with:
- Limited diesel train service from Stamford operating directly to Harlem-125th Street and Grand Central Terminal
- Limited local train service every 20-30 minutes from Stamford through Rye Stations; connecting with express bus service to White Plains Station for Harlem Line train service to Grand Central
From Harrison to Grand Central Terminal service will be provided as follows:
- Limited local train service every 20-30 minutes from Harrison through New Rochelle Stations and operating directly to Fordham, Harlem-125th Street and Grand Central Terminal
- Bus Service from Pelham and Mount Vernon East to Mount Vernon West for Harlem Line train service
From Grand Central
Limited diesel train service will be provided every 30-40 minutes from GCT and making all local stops to Stamford; with hourly connections at Stamford for train service to New Haven.
To Grand Central
Hourly shuttle service between New Haven (departing every 45 minutes after the hour) and Stamford with local train service operating every half hour between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal.
From Grand Central
Train service operating every half hour (:04 and :34 after the hour) out of Grand Central making all local stops to Stamford with hourly connections at Stamford for train service to New Haven.
PM Peak Service
From Grand Central to Stamford/New Haven
- Limited service from Grand Central direct to Stamford with connections to New Haven provided every 20-30 minutes.
- Harlem Line Service to White Plains Station with express bus service to Rye Station for local train service between Rye and Stamford operating every 20-30 minutes
From Grand Central to Harrison
- Limited train service from Grand Central to New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck and Harrison Stations
- Harlem Line train service to Mount Vernon West for Bus Service to Pelham and Mount Vernon East Stations
Visit MTA's schedules pages later this evening for complete schedule information.