Metro-North and the Connecticut Department of Transportation issued this announcement late Friday afternoon to explain some of the delays on the New Haven Line and its branches (we’ve added the boldface and subheadings):
The recent trend of late trains on the New Haven Line, including the New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury Branch Lines, has primarily been the result of extensive, ongoing upgrades to infrastructure to ensure safe operations and make our service more reliable for the future.
While the infrastructure work is necessary and in many cases, the train delays are unavoidable, we realize there is room for improvement in how we communicate with our customers.
On the New Haven Line, delays have been largely the result of track outages and speed restrictions necessary to accommodate an unprecedented infrastructure investment program funded by the State of Connecticut. Much of this work will continue into 2019 and beyond.
Projects include the construction of new bridges in Greenwich and Stamford, the continuation of our overhead catenary power replacement program, and the construction of a new railroad interlocking in East Norwalk.
To accommodate the work, tracks have been taken out of service; unfortunately, however, with fewer tracks in service, our flexibility is reduced if another operational issue should arise.
New Canaan Branch, Other Branches
This robust capital investment program also extends to the New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury Branch Lines. Projects include resurfacing track, welding joints, tree trimming, Positive Train Control (PTC) installations, grade crossing renewals, and installation of new railroad ties.
The potential for train delays on the branch lines is compounded by late train service on the New Haven Line. This summer, two-thirds of all train delays on the branch lines were the result of late connections with New Haven Line trains. Work will continue on the branch lines through the fall, and we will make every effort to minimize service impacts.
Another frequent cause of train delays on the Danbury Branch and Waterbury Branch Lines are locomotive failures. To address this issue, Metro-North Railroad has initiated a diesel locomotive overhaul program.
The first of these overhauled locomotives are scheduled to be in service before the end of 2018 with others being placed into service over the next few years. These locomotives will bring a much higher degree of reliability to the Danbury Branch and Waterbury Branch Lines.
They Can’t Always Find Buses
Finally, when service is disrupted, particularly on the Danbury Branch and Waterbury Branch Lines where the number of trains is more limited, our goal is to provide alternate bus service whenever possible.
Unfortunately, we have been unable to do that in a number of instances as our partner bus companies were unable to supply buses when requested. We realize this can be a significant inconvenience to our customers, so we are redoubling our efforts to ensure buses are available.
The need for buses should subside as the reliability of our rail fleet improves in the coming months.
This explanation and upcoming customer forums for our branch line customers represent our commitment to improve how we communicate with our valued customers.
We appreciate your patience and understanding as we carry out these critical projects. Our track and infrastructure work will not only make our system safer; it is also an investment in the future reliability of our system, which is something that you rightfully expect and deserve.
Meanwhile, Long-term Highway Projects
This isn’t the only long-term project in the region that will disrupt traffic on Interstate 95 and other high-volume traffic corridors in the area. Some should be done within a fe months, three are due for completion in 2019. The Exit 9 project is not expected to result in long-term lane closures. Here’s a rundown:
—Major, Multi-Year Interstate 95 Reconstruction in NY Along the Mile Closest to CT — Various bridges will be repaired, one replaced, ramps changed, the highway widened in the “last mile” of I-95 from about the Connecticut border to the area near the interchange with I-287, the Cross-Westchester Expressway. COMPLETION SOMETIME IN 2021.
—Interstate 95, Between Exits 15 and 16 — Rehabilitation work on the Yankee Doodle Bridge carrying I-95 over the Norwalk River between Exits 15 and 16 was scheduled to begin on or about Aug. 16, 2018. The project is expected to last 15 months, with completion scheduled BY NOV. 23, 2019.
—Nighttime Lane Closures on I-95, Off and On, in Greenwich, Stamford Start July 1, Continue Till Nov 15 (June 29) COMPLETION DATE: Nov. 15
—Rt. 1 Bridge Over I-95 at Exit 9 To Be Replaced By November 2019 (June 20) NO LONG TERM LANE CLOSURES EXPECTED. COMPLETION DATE: Nov. 30, 2019
—Four-Month, Nighttime Project Along Merritt Parkway in Greenwich to Result in Closed Lanes (June 24) COMPLETION DATE: Oct 24
—Nighttime Lane Closures on Merritt Parkway in Norwalk From Now to 2019 for Bridge Project (April 29) COMPLETION DATE: May 13, 2019