Fairfield County Lawmakers Call For Major Repairs For Metro-North

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The two-hour shutdown of trains across Fairfield County on Thursday night was due to a human error while work was done to the signal control system, Metro-North said.
The two-hour shutdown of trains across Fairfield County on Thursday night was due to a human error while work was done to the signal control system, Metro-North said. Photo Credit: MTA New York City Transit Flickr

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – With its 100-year-old train tracks, bridges and catenary wires, the infrastructure of the commuter railroad running through Fairfield County is in desperate need of repairs, legislators said. 

That became readily apparent this past week after a broken catenary wire stranded 200 passengers in the cold in Westport on Wednesday night. Metro-North blamed the cold for breaking the century-old wire. 

When new rail cars started to hit the tracks in 2011, state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said he believed Metro-North's hard times were over. But in the last 18 months, there have been even more problems on the beleaguered railroad, he said. 

“The entire infrastructure of our rail has been crumbling for 20 years,” said state Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-Fairfield. “They know what needs to be done, there’s just no plan to get it done.”

One of the biggest obstacles is getting the money needed to invest in the infrastructure, says Kupchick.

“The first and last issue is always going to be about the money and one of the unfortunate practices have been that we as the government, at least in this state, have historically taken money out of our transportation fund to cover general fund deficiencies and shortages,” said state Rep. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield. “It really is an unacceptable shortcut.”

Metro-North is the busiest railroad corridor in the entire country, and Fairfield County generates a large amount of the tax revenue that funds the railroad.

“This isn’t just a joy ride. These are people getting to their jobs. This is an important rail system that needs to be revamped,” Kupchick said. If the rail system into New York City begins to fail, businesses and residents could leave the state for places with more reliable public transportation, Hwang said.

Kupchick and state Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton, are calling for the upcoming legislative session, which convenes Feb. 5, to be a special transportation session dedicated to finding ways to fix the public highways and railways.

“I would like to see the General Assembly require the immediate submission of an infrastructure repair and upgrade plan, and then make its funding a priority over all other transit projects, including those in progress. This should be done early in the session, on an emergency basis,” said Lavielle. “The situation has reached crisis proportions, and the General Assembly must treat it as such.”

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Comments (20)

Kenny I know you hate facts but here is a fact
Connecticut's new surplus is twice what analysts thought it would be, and for a state that in 2011 faced a massive $3 billion budget hole it’s great to be in the black at last. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement that the increased surplus “. . . highlights the continued progress we have made in turning a record-setting $3.6 billion deficit to a surplus of more than $500 million, while at the same time making smart investments to improve our education system and grow jobs.”

Governor Malloy

Shouldn't be any politics involved. It should simple make money or go broke. If taxpayers need to fund it so some people can commute & make more money than they can here thats just wrong. If you want to commute & its $100 each way so be it, it sure shouldn't be the states issue.

Ken pee jr
This is the dumbest thing you have said yet and that's saying something

Hopefully the Republicans will stop taking from the mass transit funds to give take breaks to big oil.

Which Republicans are those? Not in CT, CT has been virtually run by the Democrats for decades. Besides, there shouldn't be mass transit funds. If its not self supporting it will never last.

Ken Pee Jr.
Get over this idea that government serves no purpose Your thoughts are antiquated and simply wrong. It is because of those type of antiquated ideas that the republican are laughed at.

I think the employees need a massive salary increase to put them in a better frame of mind as they approach the problem of providing safe reliable service. I believe the unions will back my plan enthusiastically.

Why don't you just give everyone a free Mercedes Benz while you're at it....why stop at a pay increase?

It's about freaking time. It's one thing to read about and hear about all these train problems. It's another thing to have them impact your daily life and overall quality of living in Fairfield county. Taxpayers and commuters are fed up and have been for years and now all of a sudden our politicians wake up and decide something needs to be done- day late and several dollars short. It's bad enough the job market in CT is in the toilet, but it adds insult to injury when people can't even get to their jobs in NYC safely.

Boo hoo, if the commuters paid a fair rate there wouldn't be any subsidies, it could run like a business and everything would be good. Its off topic but personally I think interstate commuters hurt CT. Go live in NYC if you want to work there.

Wrong again Ken pee Jr with your antiquated mind set

Read the MTA financial statements (avail on their website) and you will see their challenge. The snowballing cost of pension and healthcare costs, their bloated debt service is another driver of their inability to pay for needed maintenance.

If you want better service, don't count on it being cheap. They have kicked the can for decades and it's finally catching up to them...the math simply isn't working anymore.

The republicans have been redirecting these funds to big oil tax breaks for years...Never ever vote for the no good criminal republicans

LMAO, Wow, just wow, you must smoke some good stuff. redirecting what funds? The State of CT gives metro north ALOT of our money. If anything the issue is the Democrats doing whatever any union asks them to do. Thats why the people sweeping the streets in town make more than skilled tradesmen in the real world.

You must be a real joy to live with....Why is it you hate facts????

When new rail cars started to hit the tracks in 2011, state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said he believed Metro-North's hard times were over,just like crime,homeless,Neon,etc.Out of sight out of mined.In that time new people new administrations new problems.He sat on transportation issues in the past back slapped projects and took credit for things expected working in the state house.The power plant issue is now in good hands?A casino or another power plant would be the next big surprise.Correct me if I'm wrong three power loss incidents and three derailments in the past few months where was the call to arms then?On hold or just not during election time.Nothing but praise for those involved in emergency planning and recent incidents should of been the red flag but all we get is the red herring from all of them.Anyone think of those who have to ride the T who have to park in lots still unsafe where stabbings and crime in South Norwalk is still an on going problem that cries out for camera's police and prevention.Now we choose safe trains or safe train stations,you survive the ride but not the destination should not be choices.Lets no be quick to judge other politicians where their own family rides the T and are effected by this first hand not by phone or media or even political posturing.So far I havn't seen any suggestions that would make a rider comfortable during these emergencies.Riders in the last rescue train needed to be rescued from frozen doors to no platforms once arriving at stations why havn't we heard about those problems from out reps? Do they honestly know whats going on? It doesn't sound like it.

Bob & the Democrats in this state are as clueless as can be. They just push their party & smile for the camera as the state goes down the tubes.

The reason they need repairs is that all their cash goes to the bloated union pensions and healthcare costs, their massive debt levels (taken to kick the can) that the politicians fostered. Google 'MTA financials' and read for yourself. It's all right there.

With all due respect, do you liberal pols not see the ramifications of your actions throughout the years? Now to place yourselves as the solution to a problem you created is just sad. Sticking up for us? You are the ones that caused this.

They learned from their leader: B. Hussein Obama. The guy now says that he will fix the income inequality problem, the problem he has made much much worse in the last 5 years. Yes, these local liberal politicians are placing themselves as the solution to a problem they created. What else could they do?

Typical Politicians !!!!!
Human Error B.S. !!!!!!