Malloy: Train problems to New York may continue for a few weeks

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told Connecticut residents who commute on Metro-North Railroad to prepare for long-term problems as an electrical feeder cable failed in New York City early Wednesday morning.

Con Edison reported that the 138-kilovolt feeder cable failed at about 5:22 a.m. The failure nearly brought all train traffic into New York’s Grand Central Terminal to a halt.

The electrical issue will force Metro-North to operate diesel-powered trains between Stamford and New York’s Grand Central. Those trains will only run once per hour while Con Edison crews work on making repairs, Malloy said.

Electric train service will operate from Stamford to stations north and east on the New Haven line, he said. This would include Bridgeport, New Haven and the Waterbury line that runs through the Valley, so people only commuting as far as Norwalk and Stamford may experience fewer problems.

Using only diesel trains to get into New York means Metro-North can only carry only about 30% of its daily traffic, Malloy said.

Could take three weeks to fix

A Con Ed representative said Wednesday that another feeder normally providing service to the New Haven line was out on scheduled repairs to accommodate Metro-North upgrades on their equipment.

Malloy cautioned commuters that the repairs could take about three weeks to fix and that the change will have commuters dealing with more crowded trains. While he hopes the problem can be rectified soon, Malloy told commuters to plan for lengthy delays.

“I think people need to now assume this is a long-term problem,” Malloy said in a Wednesday afternoon press briefing with reporters.

Harlem line is an option...

Monthly New Haven line customer tickets will be honored along the Harlem line, though Malloy encouraged commuters to make other plans, including carpooling or telecommuting to cut down on the traffic.

The Harlem line runs north of New York City on the New York side of the border, so it can be an option for people who live in far western Connecticut near the New York state line.

...but parking is limited

Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs Metro-North, said that while New Haven line users can board on the Harlem line, commuter parking lots there are already crowded regularly.

Donovan said it is “strongly suggested” that New Haven line commuters get dropped off at those Harlem line stops rather than try to park in New York state.

Emily Moser, a commuter who runs the blog, said that parking would be a concern if Connecticut riders decided to park at Harlem line stations.

“Many stations on the Harlem Line have large lots with daily parking, but it’s of course first come, first served,” Moser said. “Getting there early would be a very good suggestion. The further south you get, the harder it might be to find parking.”

The best spots to park on the Harlem line, Moser said, would be the Southeast and Goldens Bridge stations, which have large lots and plenty of parking.

David DesRoches contributed to this story.