Home Asides Con Ed: New Haven Line power repairs could take ‘2-3 weeks’

Con Ed: New Haven Line power repairs could take ‘2-3 weeks’

by Benjamin Kabak

While passing through Grand Central this morning shortly before 7 a.m., I noticed crowds larger than usual idling throughout the main hall, and when I glanced up at the video boards, I — or at least anyone who needed the New Haven Line — was in for a rude awakening. All New Haven Line Metro-North service had been suspended to do the failure of a 138kV power feeder that began at approximately 5:22 a.m., and full power could take a few weeks to return.

Twelve hours in, and the news is not looking good. Con Ed issued only a terse statement seemingly taking a passive aggressive swipe at the MTA: “Con Edison 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 2-3 weeks. Another feeder normally providing service to the New Haven line was out on scheduled repairs to accommodate Metro-North upgrades on their equipment.”

The MTA, meanwhile, is scrambling. The agency can run only one train per hour in each direction, which amounts to only 10 percent of the regular service on the nation’s busiest commuter rail line. Amtrak is reporting significant delays as well. Thursday’s commute will involve some sort of train/bus shuttle combination, and the MTA will have the plans for this service ready later today. I’ll update as more information comes in.

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JJJJ September 25, 2013 - 4:25 pm

Redundancy, redundancy. American transit systems lack it, and every time something goes wrong, this happens.

Patrick @ The LRR Today September 25, 2013 - 8:45 pm

There is a redundant system in place, however the second feeder cable was OOS due to scheduled maintenance. It just happened at the wrong time.

Josh September 25, 2013 - 6:41 pm

Before they officially resumed service the diesels previously scheduled for the a.m. commute were running (I happened to luck out with timing and got right on one), and weren’t even as crowded as I’ve seen in previous emergencies – I was even to work on time, so kudos to Metro-North for that.

But the idea of another multi-day (or week) service slowdown is not exciting to think about at all. I’m staying in the city until their train/bus hybrid plans are in place and the quirks tomorrow worked out.

Ted Mann tweeted something earlier I had thought myself: Metro-North seems to be hit at the worst times and places; repairs take away redundancy, then something happens to the remaining infrastructure, leaving little to no service. The same thing happened when the derailment occurred; two tracks were out, and the other two were closed in the aftermath of the investigation.

I don’t know how an organization would plan around that as there’s only so much redundancy you can build, but it seems just like an unlucky year for Metro-North overall. Hopefully it’s not a sign that the infrastructure itself is too fragile and this becomes more of a norm.

SEAN September 25, 2013 - 7:52 pm

Here’s another way to look at this – every few years in US aviation, one of the carriers goes through a period of bad press. Most recently it happend to United with it’s merger with Contenental.

In the NYC public transit arena, the same bad press is usually reserved for NJT, LIRR & occasionally NICE. It’s unfortunate, but it’sMNR’s turn. This doesn’t include the stories regarding cost overruns & other things of that nature since all parties involved in some form are guilty in one way or another including government at all levels.

Mike September 25, 2013 - 11:06 pm

Does anybody know if these diesel trains are being allowed into Grand Central or if they are switching to electrics locomotives somewhere outside (i.e. 125th?). I thought there was a rule that Grand Central could not accommodate diesel trains due to ventilation concerns. Am I mistaken?

Corey Best September 25, 2013 - 11:10 pm

They have 3rd Rail shoes on the Diesel trains…

Mike September 26, 2013 - 12:02 am

ah… so these would be the dual mode trains, not diesel-only that amtrak has or diesel-electric that LIRR operates? i think MNR only has dual-mode, so no prob there..

Patrick @ The LIRR Today September 26, 2013 - 11:15 am

Yes, the trains being run by Metro-North are being led by P32AC-DM’s which are dual-modes that run in diesel mode for the majority of the journey before switching into electric mode as the cab-car hits the platform. They have third rail shoes which picks up power off the third rail.

Amtrak is using their spare dual-modes (which have different shoes for running into Penn Station) as well as straight diesel locomotives between New Haven and Penn Station. Trains that have straight diesels have the engines taken off in F interlocking, right outside the tunnels. The engine is then spun around to be placed on the next eastbound train after it comes out of the tunnels.

The LIRR has a combination of dual-mode engines and straight diesel engines. Only their dual-modes can run into NYP.

Mike September 26, 2013 - 1:02 pm


SEAN September 26, 2013 - 12:06 am

Wich when you think about it, makes those locos unique. NJT’s duel power locos are somewhat different, since they can run on MNR’s New Haven Line. That’s what they do for “Train to the Game” service.

Patrick @ The LIRR Today September 26, 2013 - 11:18 am

NJT uses their ordinary ALP-46 electric locomotives to do the train to the game service. There are no dual modes required since there are overhead wires the whole way.

The ALP-45DP is actually the one that is unique, as there is no locomotive like it in the world. Dual-mode engines running off of third rail have been around since the FL-9 days, if not earlier, and MNR, LIRR, and Amtrak all have dual-mode locomotives that run off third rail.

I don’t think the ALP-45DP’s are even qualified on Metro-North yet.


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