Norwalk Commuters Endure More Delays, Call Problems 'Normal'

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Commuters boarding at Greenwich train station an 8:22 a.m. train to Grand Central.
Commuters boarding at Greenwich train station an 8:22 a.m. train to Grand Central. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Another day, another delay for Metro-North Railroad commuters. Rail service was suspended briefly Friday morning in both directions between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal due to wire damage between Rye, N.Y., and Stamford.

By 8 a.m., trains were running again, but for commuters it was another frustrating day. Built-up delays of 60 to 90 minutes were reported across the New Haven Line even after the service was restored.

The problem occurred when a contractor moving railroad ties pulled down overhead wires, Metro-North said.

Two Greenwich commuters - both of whom declined to give their names while waiting at the Greenwich train station - were facing delays in their travel due to the latest disruption.

One commuter caught an 8:30 a.m. train, 40 minutes later than usual, to head to Harrison, N.Y. She said she has become accustomed to late trains.

"What I am used to is a 10-minute delay," she said while sitting in the station. "That is normal now."

The second commuter said he planned on taking the 7:15 a.m. train to Grand Central but discovered when he arrived that there would be at least an hour's delay.

"It's a regular occurrence," he said and jokingly noted that new Metro-North President Joseph Giuletti is living up to his statement that safety is more important than being on time.

He was able to get the 8:22 a.m. train to Manhattan, more than an hour after he wanted to be on his way.

It was second time this week that big delays were reported on the New Haven Line. Back on Monday, Metro-North told commuters that all trains would be delayed five to 10 minutes after fire Saturday morning destroyed a remote switching control house near Cos Cob.

The delays will continue "until further notice," Metro-North said.

When fully operational, the control house allows trains to switch among all four tracks in the area. During peak periods, trains normally use three of the New Haven Line's four tracks to travel in the peak direction. Limiting peak-direction trains to two of the four tracks in the 9-mile stretch between Stamford and Port Chester, N.Y., as a result of the fire creates congestion-related delays through that area. 

Metro-North employees have made temporary repairs. But the "highly complex process to restore limited switching capability at Greenwich is ongoing," Metro-North said.

A temporary, locally controlled manual panel will be installed over the next several weeks. It will require a signal maintainer to be stationed at the site at all times to manually change the direction of trains and switch trains from one track to another to get around problems if any arise in this area, Metro-North said. The switching work is normally performed through the railroad's Operations Control Center in New York City.

The plan also calls for rebuilding the damaged control house using equipment from another location by the end of this year, Metro-North said.

The fire also makes it impossible to check on the status of trains in that area via Metro-North's Train Time App, website information, and station LCD monitors, Metro-North said. They rely on the signal system to track trains and provide travel information. Due to the fire damage, there will be inaccurate reporting on the status of trains between Stamford and Port Chester. Once trains have cleared the section, their status will be updated to provide real-time train information.

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