Metro-North Railroad wants to assure New Haven Line commuters that on Monday morning full rush-hour service will be back on track.
The decision to provide full-train service on the New Haven Line is the result of a successful overnight tests of a new $50 million electrical substation in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said Saturday, adding that everyone at the railroad worked overtime to get the new substation up, a process that originally was forecast to take close to a month.
"What we're telling commuters to expect is a regular, ordinary and uneventful commute," Anders said. "That things are back to normal on the New Haven Line."
A 138,000-volt Con Edison feeder cable knocked out train service Sept. 25 to an eight-mile stretch of the nation's busiest passenger rail line, resulting in massive headaches for commuters who faced trains that some days felt like cattle cars. And if they couldn't work from home or carpool, Metro-North bused them from Rye to White Plains, N.Y., where they jammed Metro-North's Harlem line.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy reacted to Metro-North's statement Saturday, pointing out that a threshold question still must be answered -- why the power failure happened.
"I'll hope this outage serves as a wakeup call to Con Ed and the MTA when it comes to maintenance," Malloy said. "We need to look at why this happened and take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again. And we will continue to push Con Ed to reimburse residents," he said. "Connecticut did not cause the problem, and we should not be on the hook for the cost."
Anthony Salerno, a purchasing agent who lives in Fairfield and works in lower Manhattan, greeted the news of the resumption of regular Metro-North service with a long sigh of relief, calling it good news.
"This means that I won't have to leave as early as I have been been," he said. "What I had to do was get up at 4 o'clock in the morning, leave my house within a half-hour of that to catch the 4:39 train out of the Fairfield Metro station. Sometimes, I'd get arrive at my job by 6:30 in the morning so I'd grab a cup of coffee, head to my cubicle and have breakfast there."
To compensate its regular passengers for leaving them stranded and unable to get to work, Metro-North says it will give customers who hold weekly or monthly tickets a pro-rated credit.
Based on its average weekly ridership from January through the end of August, Anders confirmed that Metro-North might be on the hook for $4 million to its New Haven Line riders.
Jeffrey Maron, managing director of Market, a financial services company in midtown, rides Metro-North every day from Stamford with his son, who attends a private high school on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
Metro-North's cable failure has had a "huge impact" on him and his son. "Where I have the option of telecommuting, my son does not have that at his high school, and it was no easy matter getting him there. There were days when he was late and we had to let the administration of his school know," Maron said. Had Metro-North's curtailed service continued for much longer, "we were looking at having our son stay in the city with friends so that he could get to school on time."
Jim Cameron, a member of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, advises fellow Metro-North passengers to check their social media, Twitter, email or other online sources of information from Metro-North on Monday to confirm that trains are back to running on their normal rush-hour schedule and to assure themselves that there are no glitches when service is projected to resume. Cameron is also advising commuters who bought monthly and weekly tickets to save their tickets, receipts and credit card statements because Metro-North has issued "some elaborate instructions" for the prorated credit it will give affected commuters.
On an average day, Metro-North's New Haven line carries 160,000 passengers.
Cameron credited Metro-North for accomplishing the service restoration in about 10 days when it was originally anticipated to take almost a month.
"I've got to give them credit for moving very quickly to restore service," said Cameron, who commutes into Grand Central from Metro-North's Noroton Heights station in Darien. "There will be plenty of time for investigation of who knew what and who did what" with the feeder cable that failed.