Rail service on Waterbury branch resumes
WATERBURY — Train service on the Waterbury branch of Metro-North Railroad resumed earlier this week, but trains to New York City remained crowded on Thursday.
Buses replaced trains on the Waterbury branch last week after an electricity failure on the New Haven Line crippled service between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal.
Diesel locomotives that normally run on the Waterbury branch were reassigned to the New Haven Line to provide service on the busiest part of the railroad.
The problem began on Sept. 25, when a feeder cable that provides electricity to power the trains failed. Service from Stamford to Grand Central Terminal was reduced to one diesel train per hour.
Since then, Metro-North and Con Edison, the electric company, installed three temporary substations to power a reduced number of trains running between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal.
Metro-North provided about 65 percent of its regular train service on Wednesday. On Thursday, trains carried 89 percent of the usual number of morning riders on the New Haven Line.
“Of course, trains are crowded,” said Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders. “We appreciate our customers’ continuing patience.”
The temporary fix allowed diesel trains to return to the Waterbury branch, with regular service resuming on Tuesday.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly service was restored to the Waterbury branch,” said Jim Gildea, of Derby, who rides the train to his job in Bridgeport. “I feel the state has handled this power outage as well as could be expected.”
Also, he applauded the Metro-North’s decision to issue refunds to customers.
On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transit Authority decided to issue credits toward future purchases to New Haven Line customers with monthly or weekly tickets between Sept. 25 and the restoration of full service. A plan for issuing the credits will be announced at www.mta.info.
The feeder cable that caused the disruption in service is expected to be fixed this weekend, Anders said.
Commuters in Fairfield County who travel to New York City may have been hit the hardest.
“The effects of this outage are many: the inconvenience to 125,000 daily riders, the economic impact on those commuters’ businesses, and longer-term, the economic recovery of our state and nation,” rail advocate Jim Cameron, of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, wrote on his blog Monday.
He predicted that Connecticut commuters may start leaving the state for Westchester or Long Island.
“When you begin to doubt the ability of the railroad to keep operating, let alone be on time, it may be time to rethink where you live,” Cameron said.