Commuters Face Metro-North New Haven Line Delays Until Further Notice

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Commuters wait for the 11:25 a.m. train to Grand Central Terminal on Monday in Stamford. A fire Saturday in Cos Cob damaged an important switching station, Metro-North officials said.
Commuters wait for the 11:25 a.m. train to Grand Central Terminal on Monday in Stamford. A fire Saturday in Cos Cob damaged an important switching station, Metro-North officials said. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- William Osnato, who works in Stamford, Conn., has become accustomed to train delays on Metro-North.

When he heard there was a delay Monday morning, it didn't come as a surprise to him.

"It happens all the time," Osnato said of the evening trains he catches that come from New Haven and are bound for Grand Central Terminal for his return trip to New York City.

On Monday, he was waiting for the 11:25 a.m. in Stamford to return to Manhattan -- a rare event for him to leave his Stamford job in the middle of the day, he said.

Osnato was grateful that the train was on time Monday. But he may have faced some delays as he headed toward New York City.

A fire Saturday morning that destroyed a remote switching control house near Cos Cob, Conn., was the reason for the five- to 10-minute delay for New Haven Line customers, Metro-North announced Monday. The delays will continue "until further notice," Metro-North said. 

The "railroad is only able to use two of four tracks in the peak direction through a 9-mile stretch. The fire has also eliminated the ability of the railroad to operate trains around problems if any arise in this area," Metro-North said in a release Monday.

The Cos Cob control house allows trains to switch among all four tracks, Metro-North said. Due to the loss of the control center, trains are limited to two tracks in the westbound direction and two tracks in the eastbound direction between Port Chester, N.Y., and Stamford, Conn.

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 tracks in a 9-mile stretch creates a bottleneck that will result in congestion-related delays through that area.

The "highly complex process" to repair the switching capability is ongoing and that a manual control panel is expected to take weeks to implement and that extra employees have been called in to help, Metro-North said.

The fire occurred the day before new train schedules went into effect. Metro-North will have extra customer service personnel at the stations in Stamford, New Haven-Union Station and New Rochelle, N.Y., to help for the first weekday with the new timetable.

Rescue switching locomotives will be on standby to assist should any train does become disabled.

The timeline to complete the work to replace the damaged control house is being developed, Metro-North said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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