Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New Haven Line set to reopen

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Expediting repairs on 2,000 feet of right-of-way, including track restoration, reinstalled signals, and catenary replacement, Metro-North said it expects to restore full service on its New Haven Line on Wednesday, May 22. Amtrak Northeast Corridor service between Boston and New York also is expected to resume Wednesday.

Metro-North and Connecticut state officials had braced for a longer period of service disruption following the accident involving two Metro-North trains Friday, May 17, due to the damage that resulted.

“We’re thrilled with the work our people have done,” Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders told Railway Age Wednesday. “It’s amazing the adrenaline that kicks in when a crisis occurs at Metro-North.”

Anders said the repair and restoration work was a true team effort, noting, “It goes from the storeroom, the people providing the tie plates, all the way to the people driving the track geometry car." Noting some observers were surprised at the speed of repairs, Anders observed, “We did not rush [repair work], but we’re working three shifts, 24/7, to get it done.”

The cause of the incident, which occurred near Fairfield, Conn., is still not determined, though National Transportation Safety Board officials continue to examine a portion of fractured rail as a possible key.

"We are confident that the reconstruction work, inspection, and testing will be completed for a normal rush hour on Wednesday," Metro-North President Howard Permut said Tuesday.

Late Tuesday afternoon Metro-North restored limited service to the New Haven Line through the accident site, though emphasizing full service would not be in place until Wednesday morning. Amtrak also began resuming service along the line, part of its Northeast Corridor operations, with Acela trains departing from both Boston and New York Tuesday afternoon.

The New Haven Line not only is Metro-North's busiest rail route but is also considered the busiest passenger rail route in North America. Many regular riders Monday north of Fairfield had difficulty traveling, though Metro-North provided shuttle bus service as a stopgap measure. Amtrak service has been annulled between New Haven and New York since the incident.