FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – New Haven Line commuters should be prepared to take alternate routes to work, or work from home for “a substantial period of time,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said Wednesday afternoon.
“We don’t know how long this will take to fix,” Malloy said in a news conference from Hartford. “We are hearing estimates as long as three weeks. Hopefully that is the worst-case scenario.”
The New Haven Line was stopped between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal because of a power outage in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Wednesday morning. Metro-North Railroad was able to set up limited service using diesel-fueled trains, but the line will not be at full capacity until full electricity is restored.
Metro-North has brought in additional thee diesel engines to add to the three already in service, but without electricity the rail line cannot run at full capacity. Metro-North will be able to serve about 30 percent to 40 percent of its normal ridership with the diesel engines.
“This is a serious, perhaps prolonged outage,” said Transportation Commissioner James Redeker.
The problem started during maintenance to a feeder line to the New Haven Line’s catenary system in Mount Vernon. Because of the amount of electricity in the line, the system is superheated and will require cooling with liquid nitrogen before officials can inspect the damage.
The broken feeder line supplied power in the Mount Vernon area for the four New Haven Line tracks. The full extent of the problem, and how long it will take to fix, was not clear as of Wednesday evening.
“We don’t have a definitive answer,” Malloy said. “Con Ed is somewhat in the blind at the moment.”
In a statement, Con Edison said it is working with Metro-North to try to establish alternative power sources to serve the New Haven Line.
"Company crews are working around the clock to make repairs to a feeder cable that failed earlier today, but repairs of this nature typically take two to three weeks," Con Ed said. "Another feeder normally providing service to the New Haven Line was out on scheduled repairs to accommodate Metro-North upgrades on their equipment.
"We apologize for the disruption, and we are working with Metro-North to help resolve the problem."
Malloy said he would “impress upon” Metro-North that the trains need to be at full capacity as soon as possible. But officials advise residents to be prepared to find other ways to work.
The Department of Transportation will cut down on tree trimming work on the Merritt Parkway and Interstate 95 to ease congestion on the highways during rush hour. Officials suggested that regular commuters carpool, find ways to work from home, or make arrangements to stay in New York. The New Haven Line may not be running to full capacity until Oct. 14, Malloy said.
“This is going to be a substantial disruption for a substantial period of time,” Malloy said.
A new temporary timetable for New Haven Line trains will be posted to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority website by Wednesday night. Monthly passes for the New Haven Line will also be honored on the Harlem Line in Westchester County.