Today, Metro-North announced a reduced winter schedule for their New Haven line through March 4. This schedule reduces weekday morning and evening peak service by approximately 10 percent. Also, a Sunday schedule has been in effect both Saturdays and Sundays since February 5.
Branford commuters who take Shore Line East to connect to Metro-North at New Haven’s Union Station will also feel the impact of changed schedules.
The Shore Line commuter train service stated on their website, “While Metro-North's New Haven Line is operating under the "Reduced Winter Schedule," Shore Line East trains will wait a reasonable amount of time for weekday afternoon/evening Metro-North trains to arrive at New Haven's Union Station.”
The reduction of Metro-North scheduled trains has many factors involved according to their press release, which stated: “This winter’s extreme cold temperatures and large amounts of snow have presented numerous challenges that go beyond clearing our yards, switches, and station platforms. The extreme weather causes the electronic and air systems on our 40-year-old-plus New Haven Line fleet to fail.”
The impact, they explain, will result in trains being short of cars, which means fewer seats and crowded conditions. “In the worst case,” they state, “your train can be delayed or cancelled.”
The repairs to train cars are varied and the cold weather impacts have caused the following necessary work:
- Traction motors must be repaired or replaced – a job that routinely takes anywhere from six to 16 hours to complete.
- Brakes freeze and get stuck from the extreme cold.
- Doors won’t close properly because the snow and ice that gets inside the door pockets prevents them from opening or closing on command.
The Connecticut Rail Commuter Council will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 in the Stamford Government Center, 888 Washington Boulevard, about the Metro-North Railroad's "Winter Service Crisis.” Rail commuters are invited.
In a press release, the CT Rail Commuter Council Chairman Jim Cameron of Darien, said, “We are inviting commuters, Metro-North, the CT DOT, elected officials and Kawasaki [manufacturer of new rail cars] to join us.”
“We especially want commuters who have suffered through recent weeks of delays, cancellations and unheated cars to attend, share their experiences and get their questions answered,” added Council Vice Chair Terri Cronin from Norwalk. “The folks from Metro-North need to hear from their customers. But commuters also need to hear Metro-North explain their challenges in running a first-class railroad with third-world equipment.”
The CT Rail Commuter Council said, “A combination of poorly-designed and now-obsolete equipment, horrendous weather and continuing delays in the M8 testing (new trains) has shattered Metro-North’s operations in Connecticut this winter. Half of the 300-plus fleet of cars is out of service. Inadequate shop facilities make it impossible to repair those cars, forcing Metro-North to cut schedules and run trains with fewer cars, leading to standing-room-only conditions.”
According to the CT Rail Commuter Council, the state invested $866 million in new M8 rail cars, which has brought no help to this crisis as promised. The cars were supposed to be in service, according to the council in late 2009 but hit production problems. “Delivery of the first car in December 2009,” said the council, “then led to new in-service targets of “late 2010.” But by December 2010, testing identified new problems. Neither Metro-North nor CT DOT is offering any estimate of when the M8s will complete necessary testing and be ready to run.”