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17,823 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Connecticut is one of many states in the Northeastern US rebuilding its state wide Rail network and inner city network. The State currently has 5 Railways , with plans for 7 more. Cities like Hartford , Bridgeport , Stamford and New Haven are planning Streetcars. Electrification and Grade Separation of 2 lines are planned. A New Fleet of New Haven line EMU's has been ordered. I put all the state plans into one map. The Suburban Bus system is being expanding along with a bikeway system in certain towns. The States DOT has placed Transit over Highway spending.

Daily Statewide Rail and Bus usage : 480,000


7,932 Posts
Danbury News-Times

Gov. Rell suggests eliminating Danbury branch rail service
Dirk Perrefort, Staff Writer
Published: 11:08 p.m., Wednesday, November 24, 2010

DANBURY -- Eliminating rail service on the Danbury branch line is one of many possible spending cuts Gov. M. Jodi Rell put on the table for discussion Tuesday.

Shutting down service on the Danbury, Waterbury and New Canaan branch lines are among dozens of line items included in a letter the outgoing governor sent to the Legislature's Appropriations Committee Wednesday.

Eliminating the three branch lines would save about $5 million according to the letter, and it would help fill a $33 million budget gap in the state's heating assistance program for low-income residents for the upcoming winter.

Rell's letter is the latest volley in an ongoing battle between the governor and the committee over heating assistance.

Several area officials said they doubted rail service would be disrupted, and they said the proposal was just a scare tactic aimed at getting people's attention.

"I don't believe this is a serious proposal," said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican who recently lost his bid for the lieutenant governor's seat. "It's part of the Kabuki theater of budgeting. Let's find the most ominous and abhorrent place to cut, in this case rail lines, to get the Legislature to agree to other cuts."

The governor suggested earlier this week that if the Legislature had rolled back increased benefits in the heating assistance program as she had suggested, there wouldn't be a potential $33 million shortfall due to a cutback in federal funding.

Donna Tommelleo, a spokeswoman for the governor's office, said Rell is still working with other governors in an attempt to restore some of that funding, but in the meantime, Rell proposed a list of spending cuts for the Legislature to consider.

"I want to strongly emphasize that this list is offered as a basis for discussion and presents a range of options," Tommelleo said.

In her letter to the appropriations committee Wednesday, Rell said, "Winter is fast approaching and there is an urgency to ensure that demands for fuel assistance can be met despite a deep drop in federal funding and the legislature's unwillingness to prudently restore the program to previous, and yet still very substantial, benefit levels."

The proposal is counter to Rell's record of promoting public transit, including the recent, $760 million purchase of 300 M-8 rail cars and a $60 million upgrade for the signal system on the Danbury line.

State Sen. Toni Boucher, a longtime proponent of public transit improvements, called the suggestion laughable, especially given that construction crews are in the middle of installing the new signal system on the Danbury line, which will expand service.

"This is ridiculous," Boucher said, adding that any proposal from the governor has to be approved by the Legislature. "These proposals aren't going anywhere."

Boucher compared the proposed cutbacks by the governor's office to threats sometimes made by municipal education boards that vow to eliminate popular sports programs when faced with tough budget cuts. Boucher added that former Gov. John Rowland, Rell's disgraced predecessor, also proposed eliminating service on the Danbury branch line toward the end of his tenure.

State Rep. Jason Bartlett, a Democrat who serves as a vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said Rell's proposal on Wednesday was "an exercise in futility," adding that there are a lot of people in need who benefit from the heating assistance program.

"Nobody considers this to be a real negotiation at this point," Bartlett said. "This is really a charade at this point."

Colleen Flanagan, Gov.-elect Dan Malloy's transition spokeswoman, said Tuesday his team is focused on putting together a budget that is "honestly balanced" and "forces the state to live within its means."

"To get there, there are going to have to be some tough cuts -- no question," she said. "That said, Gov.-elect Malloy is not philosophically someone who is inclined to cut rail service."

7,932 Posts
Hartford Courant,0,6361472.story

Rell's Metro-North Plan Faltering
By DON STACOM, [email protected] The Hartford Courant

8:53 p.m. EST, December 15, 2010

In the final weeks of her administration. Gov. M. Jodi Rell is watching in frustration as her plan to replace Metro-North's commuter train fleet goes off the tracks.

Democrats on the State Bond Commission last week blocked her bid to borrow $81 million for more Kawasaki M-8 cars. On Wednesday, the state announced that its first batch of M-8s was malfunctioning. The train cars will be delayed for at least a month before going into service on the New Haven line.

"We have worked so hard to get these cars in service," Rell said Wednesday. "Commuters have been very, very patient. I can understand their patience, like mine, is wearing a little thin right now, especially when we had been promised [the cars would be running] by the end of December. But some things can't be helped."

Connecticut has ordered 342 of the high-tech train cars to gradually phase into the Metro-North fleet, with Kawasaki's factory in Lincoln, Neb., expected to ship as many as 10 a month for the next three years. Rell wanted to complete the deal by ordering another 38 cars before she leaves office Jan. 5.

But Democrats who want to leave the decision to Democratic Gov.-elect Dan Malloy next month balked at Rell's request. Comptroller Nancy Wyman and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal didn't even show up for the bond commission meeting last week.

Rell conceded on Wednesday that with Blumenthal and Wyman boycotting, she couldn't get enough votes to overcome opposition from Republican Rep. Vincent Candelora and two Democrats, Sen. Eileen Daily and Rep. Cameron Staples.

On the same day, The Advocate newspaper of Stamford reported that a glitch had developed with the first six M-8s that are being tested at the New Haven rail yard. Those cars were supposed to go into service this month, but will be delayed until at least mid-January, Transportation Commissioner Jeffrey Parker said Wednesday.

"We know what the problem is, we know what the fix is," Parker said.

Traction motors on the cars occasionally are triggering a "stop" signal on the M-8's computer controls, forcing the whole train to halt needlessly. Parker said that after Kawasaki makes software modifications, the six prototype train cars will undergo 4,000 miles of test runs between New Haven and New York's Grand Central Terminal. If those tests go well, the cars will go into service as early as mid-January, he said. Kawasaki will pay all the costs of the modifications, Parker said.

Democratic Sens. Donald DeFronzo and Bob Duff both criticized the DOT for not telling state legislators about the latest problem with the Kawasaki order.

"We have consistently impressed upon the department the need for information, and the department has consistently failed to keep us abreast of the situation," they said in a joint statement.

Parker acknowledged that the DOT knew of the glitch in early December.

Rell, a Republican, has promoted passenger rail heavily during her five years as governor. She promised upon taking office that she'd replace the creaky fleet of Metro-North, one of America's busiest passenger train systems. But repeated delays in the Kawasaki deal have pushed the replacement more than a year behind schedule.

Also Wednesday, Rell announced that she would hold another meeting of the bond commission, on Dec. 22, to try again to approve borrowing about $22 million for park upgrades, building repairs and other work in about a dozen towns and cities.

Last Friday was supposed to be the last State Bond Commission meeting of Rell's administration. All 30 or so items on her agenda got more "yes" than "no" votes, but when the meeting was over, there was confusion about what had happened during the voice votes. Rules require six "yes" votes for an item to pass; lawyers and staff analyzed tapes of the voice votes and concluded that nine items, including the train purchase, had received only five votes, and thus had failed.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

7,932 Posts
Stamford Advocate

New rail cars to be more weatherproof
Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Published: 06:15 p.m., Wednesday, January 5, 2011

STAMFORD -- If state transportation and Metro-North Railroad expectations hold, the first of Connecticut's new fleet of trains will hit the rails by the end of next month putting them in service in some of the coldest and most difficult conditions of the year.

The most accurate predictor of their performance could be that of New York's fleet of M-7 trains which entered service five years ago on Metro-North's Harlem and Hudson lines and were the prototype for Connecticut's M-8 trains.

New York's trains are far more weather resilient than the 30- to 40-year-old trains they replaced, but they're not perfect since snow and ice can still interfere with connections to the third rail that powers the electric motors.

Metro-North service was brought to a halt for four hours Monday morning when two M-7 trains were unable to connect to the third-rail system because of heavy snow.

"It will still face problems with the third rail during extreme weather but will be much less vulnerable," said Metro-North President Howard Permut.

Permut said Connecticut's new fleet of 342 M-8 cars features a more modern design that will shield vital components of railcars from winter weather related breakdowns which impact the older M-2s, most of which were built in the 1970s.

Gaskets, circuit boards, and other vital components of the M-8 cars are designed to withstand temperatures of 40 below zero, while other vital electronic equipment and wiring are shielded from the elements inside the M-8 cars, Permut said.

Aboard the M-2 cars, some critical electrical wiring and circuits are contained in plastic boxes located beneath the trains, where they are susceptible to drifting snow and water damage.

One-third of the entire New Haven Line fleet was crippled in 2004 by icy conditions.

"It will be a totally different system and it won't be vulnerable to the same problems because the systems won't be exposed," Permut said.

Like its forerunner the M-7, the M-8, which will operate on both overhead catenary and third-rail power, would still face potential breakdowns if snow drifts prevent it from connecting to third- rail power on the section of track west of New Rochelle, N.Y., Permut said.

The state Department of Transportation initially planned to have the first of the state's nearly $900 million order of M-8 cars delivered, tested, and in service by early 2010 but a range of delays pushed back the debut more than a year.

During 2008, the anticipated production of the cars was stalled when Kawasaki Rail Corp. was unable to obtain the type of agreed-upon steel to build the equipment.

In late 2009, a delay in installing diagnostic software aboard the first cars delivered, halted the start of a battery of tests of mechanical and computer components controlling propulsion, braking, lights, rest rooms, and door systems on the cars.

In early 2010, former DOT Commissioner Joseph Marie predicted that delay could be made up, enabling a late-year debut.

As Metro-North scrambled to maintain service in the wake of the blizzard Sunday and Monday, railroad and Kawasaki engineers halted track testing of the long-awaited M-8 rail cars to allow maintenance crews to handle the crisis, Permut said.

Permut said the railroad and Kawasaki are still aiming to fix the software code problems that included electromagnetic interference that caused cars to disrupt railway signal systems and garbled on-board public address announcements in time to get some of the new cars in service by the end of January.

"That's still the goal," Permut said. "We're still hoping to get the testing done."

Earlier this month, Permut and DOT Commissioner Jeffrey Parker acknowledged the software problems would prevent Metro-North and the DOT from keeping the planned debut of the M-8 cars during December, a goal DOT officials and Gov. M. Jodi Rell restated as recently as late November during a press conference and initial test run of the cars.

Permut said he doesn't believe the blizzard will affect the timeline to introduce the cars.

"Because of the storm we have not been able to get the cars out for those two nights," Permut said. "The storm and its aftermath will impact the timing of the testing but we're still aiming to get them in service sometime in mid to late January."

DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said the department is optimistic Kawasaki engineers will fix the software problems and begin simulated passenger runs as soon as this weekend.

Under the state's contract with Kawasaki, the first eight pilot cars must log at least 4,000 track miles without a failure before they go into public service, Everhart said.

Subsequent M-8 cars will need to operate for 1,000 miles error free to be put into public service.

"Once all the issues are resolved we will begin the 4,000-mile test," Everhart said. "We are still several weeks from getting them into service."

Drew Todd, a Connecticut Rail Commuter Council member from South Norwalk, and Terri Cronin, a vice chair of the group who commutes from East Norwalk, said they were disappointed but not surprised to hear software issues were still being fixed despite being told by Metro-North two weeks ago they were almost done.

"I remember they said it would be a few days before the computer problem would be fixed," Todd said. "I would be very surprised if they were here by late January. I would predict they'd be in service by March and hope I'm wrong."

Cronin said she has stopped telling commuters when to expect the new cars, after being told that a December debut of the cars would be very likely.

"I think the railroad and DOT are trying to keep their predictions very loose because they're not really sure of what's going on," Cronin said. "I really want the cars to get here but I'm not as optimistic as I used to be."

17,823 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Why are they having so much problems with the trains? This is pathetic.

The New York lines have much nicer trains and they've replaced their older stocks so much faster.

BTW, I have noticed that Hartford's PT plans (BRT and commuter rail) have disappeared into the sunset...
Its not uncommon for Newer trains with Dual Power systems to have problems and issues.... The New York lines are the same , these trains are actually an improvement of the NY line trains..... As for Hartford's plans , the BRT is moving forward and so is the Intercity / Commuter Rail line , and the state is studying streetcar / light rail for Stamford , Bridgeport , New Haven and Hartford.....also an Airport line to Bradley....

pooh bear
14,971 Posts
The bus in New Haven isn't bad, goes most places and is cheap, however, I've never heard anything about the streetcar plans here. They are planning to remove a highway in downtown soon though (Route 34)

7,932 Posts
Accordion buses are all the rage in southwestern Connecticut

Connecticut Post

Stamford to roll out articulated buses in February, ease overcrowding
Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Published: 10:27 p.m., Sunday, January 9, 2011

The back end of one of Connecticut Transit's new 60-foot articulated buses swings wide as it makes a turn in downtown Stamford, Conn., Thursday, January 6, 2011. The buses should alleviate overcrowding on routes, 11, 41, and 43 beginning in the spring Photo: Keelin Daly / Stamford Advocate


CTTransit riders on heavily travelled bus routes running through Port Chester, N.Y., downtown Stamford, and Norwalk will see more open seats next month when they become some of the first riders in the state to board a new fleet of 60-foot articulated buses, officials said.

Beginning this week, CTTransit will adopt a series of schedule and service changes partly to accommodate the anticipated introduction of the new fleet of biodiesel buses, which are expected to reduce crowding on the routes and have better fuel economy, said Philip Fry, general manager for CTTransit.

The buses, which cost $619,000 each, are part of a multi-year order of buses being purchased by the Connecticut Department of Transportation to replace much of CTTransit's fleet, said Fry.

The 13 buses will replace 13 of the 15-year-old 40-foot Nova buses which will be retired, Fry said.

"It should make for a more pleasant and less crowded ride for those routes," Fry said.

CTTransit aims to get the buses in service in late February, after training drivers and mechanics in their operation and maintenance Fry said.

The buses will be designated to three busier routes, Route 11 which stretches from Port Chester to the Stamford rail station through Greenwich, Route 41 from Stamford rail station to the Norwalk Wheels Hub in Norwalk, and Route 43 between Atlantic Square dowtown and Glenbrook, Fry said.

On Thursday, one of the buses drew glances from downtown onlookers when it drove up Atlantic Street and Broad Street with CTTransit safety and training coordinator Desmond Hinds at the wheel.

Hinds has been driving the buses along the three chosen routes to check that the current routes can accommodate the wide turns the buses must make, said Joseph Williams Jr., superintendent of transportation for CTTransit's Stamford division.

Hinds said the Stamford division's 80 drivers will begin their driver training on the longer buses in early February at the Clairol property on Blachley Road.

"Driving the bus is more akin to driving a tractor trailer and you use different reference points when making a turn," said Hinds.

The biodiesel buses also feature equipment that meets tougher federal emissions standards for nitrogen oxide emissions that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began imposing in 2010.

The new system injects a small amount of catalytic solution into the hot exhaust stream leaving the bus, which converts nitrogen oxide into nitrogen and water vapor. The vapor is treated with a second agent which breaks down any remaining ammonia before leaving the bus, according to Fry.

"The emissions are almost too low to be measured," Fry said. "In some cities the air coming out of the exhaust system is cleaner than the air going in."

The articulated buses, have a seating capacity of 57 compared to 36 seated on buses to be replaced, Fry said.

Mark Astwood, a 23-year-old Stamford man who is studying to become an electrician said the new buses will be welcome and he is often without a seat on the 40-foot buses when he catches a ride from Atlantic Square on the bus Route 41 bus to his evening job at PetSmart in Norwalk three nights a week.

"To tell the truth, the bus can be pretty full after the first two stops after the rail station," Astwood said. "Just around the corner at Macy's usually another 8 to 10 people get the bus."

Rosie Johnson, 47, of Springdale, said she rides the Route 43 bus to classes at Norwalk Community College on weekdays, but the bus fills up in Norwalk, usually leaving some passengers standing.

"I think it is going to be great because the buses get pretty crowded," said Johnson.

Staff Writer Martin B. Cassidy can be reached at [email protected] or at 203-964-2264.

7,932 Posts
the future of intrastate river ferries

This is a recent article about the two Connecticut River ferries, one between Chester and Hadlyme and the other between Rocky Hill and Glastonbury. (There are also intrastate ferries on Long Island Sound in Greenwich and Branford's Thimble Islands and interstate ferries from Bridgeport and New London to Long Island).

Hartford Courant,0,1940711.story

( Rick Hartford, hc / November 12, 2010 )
Passengers enjoy the fall view aboard the Selden III Chester-Hadlyme Ferry on the Connecticut River as it approaches the landing at Chester Tuesday afternoon. The Chester-Hadlyme Ferry has been in operation at the same site for more than 200 years. Jonathan Warner of Chester ran the first private ferry there beginning in 1769. The town took it over in 1877. It is the second oldest ferry in continuous use in Connecticut and has been operated by the state DOT since 1917. The ship itself is 61 years-old, launched in 1949 and put into service in 1950.

The Rocky Hill / Glastonbury ferry arrives at Rocky Hill on a beautiful day.

Future Of Connecticut Ferries In Doubt
Supporters Discuss Saving Chester-Hadlyme And Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Services And Ask Malloy Not To Close Them

By ERIK HESSELBERG, Special to The Courant

5:09 p.m. EST, January 3, 2011

Everyone has a story about the Chester-Hadlyme ferry.

Marcy Saltzman, who moved here from Brooklyn, remembers carrying truckloads of donkey manure across the river for a community garden.

East Haddam First Selectman Mark Walter's children celebrated their birthdays with a ride on the boat.

Marsha Orzech of Hadlyme recalled 41 years of commuting by ferry.

As far away as Afghanistan, there are ferry stories. U.S. soldiers there, who trained on the property of East Haddam resident Bruce Elfstrom, recall their ferry rides.

"I'd get e-mails from these guys in Afghanistan, and they want to know about the Chester ferry," said Elfstrom, who trains special forces soldiers. "They still remember that five-minute ride on the river."

Now, the 241-year-old ferry's future is in doubt, and supporters gathered recently to discuss how to save it, along with its counterpart in Rocky Hill-Glastonbury. The ferries were placed on a list of services that may be cut to narrow the state's budget gap. Elfstrom, Walter, Orzech and Saltzman were among 150 people who packed the Hadlyme Public Hall at a December forum. The mood was festive, the room bright with Christmas lights and other decorations, as residents shared stories about a ferry boat that had become part of their lives.

Rob Smith, who grew up on King's Highway in Chester, just up from the ferry slip,

said he is a descendent of Jonathan Warner, who established the river crossing at Chester in 1769. Squire Warner, the story goes, had a horn hanging on a tree for use by travelers, to signal when they needed to cross the river. Smith said he thought Warner would be "pretty annoyed" that the ferry might come to an end.

'Budget Exercise'

The state's two historic ferries have struggled to stay afloat in an era of cutbacks and consolidation. Last month, the state Department of Transportation added the ferries to a list of services that could be curtailed or eliminated to narrow the $3.5 billion state budget gap. The proposed cuts were requested by the state Office of Policy and Management, which asked state agencies to trim their budgets by 15 percent.

No action has been taken, and DOT spokesman Kevin J. Nursick warned against drawing any conclusions at this point. He characterized the list as a "budget exercise." "We'd like to see the ferries remain in operation," Nursick said. "They are part of the state's multi-modal transportation infrastructure, and fill an important need for our constituents."

Still, local residents are worried. More than 2,000 have signed a petition calling on Gov.-elect Dan Malloy not to close the ferries. A task force also has been formed to look at ways to preserve the crossings, which, advocates say, will become more important later this year when construction begins on the Arrigoni Bridge connecting Middletown and Portland, and commuters seek other ways to cross the river.

Quaint Barges

The state's two ferries take us back to our Colonial roots. The crossing at the bend at Rocky Hill, once part of Wethersfield, was established in 1655, making it the nation's oldest ferry still in use; Warner's ferry in Chester shuttled people and freight across the river before the Revolution. The first boats were flat-bottom scows propelled by long sweeper oars and sails. Fares were a penny for foot-passengers and three pence for a "man and a horse," usually paid in grain or West Indian rum.

These quaint barges would be replaced by efficient steam-powered vessels and eventually diesel after the state took over ferry service in 1917. The present Chester ferry, Selden III, was built in 1949 – a stout, 65- foot craft that can accommodate eight or nine cars and 49 passengers. It carries traffic across the river along Route 148.

At the picturesque Rocky Hill crossing, a little diesel tug called the Cumberland pushes the three-car barge Hollister III between lush green banks fringed by willows and cottonwood. The ferry, part of Route 160, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Revenue from car and passenger fares covers only about a third of operating expenses, which last year were $340,000 for the Chester ferry and about $250,000 for the Rocky Hill ferry, the DOT said. This tradeoff sometimes is questioned. The DOT's bureau of aviation and ports concluded in 1996 that this modest subsidy was worth it, noting in an interoffice memo that "the Connecticut Ferry Service is doing quite well when compared to other public transit operations." In 2002, the bureau completed a $1.5 million upgrade of the Chester-Hadlyme ferry slips.

But a year later, Gov. John Rowland proposed closing the ferries to help narrow a $650 million budget gap. Rowland backed away from the idea, and a steep fare hike that year, from $2.25 to $5 a car, was loudly protested. Fares were eventually reduced to the present $3 a car and $1 for walk-on passengers, but service at Rocky Hill was cut from seven to six days a week and evening hours were curtailed.

River's Fabric

Linda Krause, director of the Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency, said the ferries don't get the respect they deserve among state officials. "I think they view the ferries more as children's toys than serious transportation."

Planner Jean Davies, a colleague of Krause's, agreed, but added that the value of the ferries is "not easily quantifiable." Davies said the ferries are an important part of the lower river economy, which is increasingly dependent on tourism. Lower river selectmen recently approved a resolution in support of the ferries.

Davies said the Chester ferry belongs to a nexus of attractions that include the Goodspeed Opera House, Gillette Castle and the steam trains of the Valley Railroad, which have added a stop at the ferry slip to allow visitors to take the boat over to Gillette Castle. Trips to the castle account for 75 percent of ferry business, according to the DOT.

Smith, the descendant of river crossing founder Warner, used to work at Gillette Castle and sees the Chester ferry as an extension of the 184-acre state park. "You always see the ferry and the castle photographed together," he said. "They have sort of melded into one image. In Connecticut, I don't think any of the state parks make money except maybe Hammonasset. Some might say that the ferries are a luxury we can no longer afford, but what else are we going to do away with? The ferries are part of the fabric of the river."

Copyright © 2011, The Hartford Courant

7,932 Posts
Stamford 411 (The Advocate)

Metro-North door malfunction looking for hits on YouTube
January 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm by Martin Cassidy

Video footage of a train door of an M-2 car that got stuck open on the 8:03 a.m. Monday train from New Canaan to Grand Central Terminal got prompt attention from Metro-North Railroad after being posted on YouTube.

Metro-North is investigating the incident, impounding the rail car for inspection at the New Haven Railyard, spokeswoman Marjorie Anders.

“The footage in this video is very concerning to us and Metro-North is investigating the door malfunction,” Anders said. “A door opening en route is an extremely unusual occurrence. Metro-North is in the process of inspecting all train doors and all train doors will be tested before the initial run of the day(Wednesday).”

One of the stars of the video appears to jimmy the door helping it close after the train enters the Park Avenue tunnel.

Passengers who notice a door open should move away from the door and notify a conductor who will manually close and lock it shut, Anders said.

Signs above doors advise passengers not to lean on the portals, but conductors will make announcements in light of the incident to remind them to not lean on the equipment.

Connecticut Rail Commuter Council Chairman Jim Cameron said that the passengers in the video should have called the conductor instead of trying to fix the problem themselves.

Cameron said if it had been an airplane and the wing had fallen off, they would have alerted the crew.

“What I understand that when the train came into Grand Central nobody said anything to anybody,” Cameron said. “The train could have lurched or swayed and somebody could have fallen out.”

7,932 Posts
New Canaan News

New Canaan train gets derailed
Paresh Jha, [email protected]
Published: 05:12 p.m., Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Metro-North train derailed at the New Canaan station at approximately 12:30 this morning. As of 2:10 p.m. it was successfully re-railed.

According to MTA spokesman Marjorie Anders, the engineer overshot the end of the rail due to last night's white out and slippery conditions.

"The first set of wheels ran off the end of the track," she said, adding that the train was going slow at the time of impact. "He just went a little too far."

There were two passengers on board at the time of the accident, but no one was injured.

After the roads had been cleared, MTA was able to send a crane to the train station to begin the re-railment process. Anders explained that a crane was needed to lift up the train and put it back on the track. After that, it was carted away and checked for damages.

"The New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury branches continue to be suspended," she said, adding that the New Haven line is running on a Sunday schedule. This schedule provides limited service."

The MTA has advised people to only travel if absolutely necessary.

Petersen Shepard / New Canaan News

While lifted, blocks are put under the train. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard / New Canaan News

Metro-North workers at the scene of a derailed commuter train in New Canaan after a snow storm on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. (photo/courtesy Diane Knetzger) Photo: Contributed Photo / Stamford Advocate Contributed

(photo/courtesy Diane Knetzger) Photo: Contributed Photo / Stamford Advocate Contributed

New Canaan train station is cordoned off due to the train derailment. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard / New Canaan News

The train plowed through the wooden fence. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard / New Canaan News

A view from the back of the train looking towards Park Street. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard / New Canaan News

Another train was brought in to try to help get the derailed train back on the track. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard / New Canaan News

A crane lifts the front of the train. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard / New Canaan News

Workers hook the cables of the crane to the train. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard / New Canaan News

Workers continue to try to re-rail the train so it can be pulled away and checked for damages. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard / New Canaan News

Though the train was derailed due to the white out and slippery conditions during the storm, neither of the two passengers were injured. Photo: Jeanna Petersen Shepard / New Canaan News

7,932 Posts
The Advocate

Metro-North battles to keep trains on track
Jonathan Lucas, Staff Writer
Published: 08:17 p.m., Friday, January 28, 2011

STAMFORD -- Nearly one-third of Metro-North's Railroad's New Haven Line trains have been knocked out of service by this winter's continuing harsh conditions, which is expected to lead to severe overcrowding when commuters return to work on Monday.

The railroad implemented a reduced Sunday schedule for Saturday in an effort to allow crews to dig out frozen rail switches, clear rail yards and sweep snow off the pantographs on the tops of trains. Over the weekend, the railroad plans to use six trains equipped with jet blowers to keep rails along the New Haven Line clear, said Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders.

"We are still battling, it is not over," Anders said adding the railroad has repair crews working around the clock to fix broken rail cars and maintain the infrastructure of tracks and overhead catenary wires.

The railroad has been using diesel locomotives to help supplement the fleet and make up for the loss of more than 100 of the state's 347 rail cars, but commuters have been seeing shortened trains with fewer seats.

Anders said the railroad expects to be able to accommodate passengers over the weekend despite the reduced service schedule, but beyond that, she said they're taking it on a day-to-day basis.

The railroad is trying to avert a recurrence of its "winter of discontent" in 2004 when 126 cars were knocked out by snow and ice and nearly brought service to a halt.

The bulk of Connecticut's fleet of rail cars was built in the 1970s and is particularly sensitive to cold-weather conditions as drifting snow can make its way into electronic circuitry and wiring mounted in plastic boxes beneath the trains. Door motors are also prone to shorting out and earlier this week a commuter posted a video on YouTube showing a moving train with a malfunctioning door.

Jim Cameron, chairman of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, said the railroad learned from its 2004 experience and has taken precautions to avoid exposing the fleet to damaging conditions.

"They're doing the best they can with an impossible situation with broken-down equipment that should have been replaced 15 years ago," Cameron said.

Connecticut commuters have been awaiting the first of the next generation of M-8 rail cars which have been delayed by more than a year due to computer and other electrical problems.

"I'm just praying for an early spring. There's nothing else we can do," Cameron said.

For the latest road and rail updates, visit the BlogJam at

7,932 Posts
Metro North is having a lot of problems this winter with short trains, late trains and overcrowded cars. Here are some stories from commuters:

my favorite one:

The other night I was on my way home from Grand Central to Stamford, the train was short some cars and it was very, very crowded. We were all packed into the vestibule area and aisles, passengers were standing everywhere as there were no available seats. Since we were packed in so closely, this woman in front of me had her backside pushed up against the front of my pants. As the train bounced around and swayed she kept rubbing her backside up against me which caused me to become very aroused. This continued for what seemed like an eternity and finally when I could take it no longer I thrust up against her and had a terrible explosion which wet the front of my trousers. I was able to cover it up with my coat, but it was a very uncomfortable situation to find myself in. I hope they get this situation resolved soon or I fear a repeat of this incident is only inevitable.

Comment by Jim Hayes — January 31st, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

7,932 Posts
The (Stamford, CT) Advocate

Commuters forgiving of Metro-North delays
Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Published: 12:11 p.m., Tuesday, February 1, 2011

STAMFORD -- While some trains were so crowded they were unable to take on more passengers, riders out of Stamford station got picked up with minor delays Tuesday morning as Metro-North Railroad ran diesel trains to compensate for its snow-ravaged electric car fleet.

Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said the railroad cancelled and combined four trains Tuesday morning, which led to such crowding that several hundred passengers had to be turned away from the runs to board the next train.

Widespread delays of five to 10 minutes were due mainly to the use of more durable diesel locomotives that accelerate and decelerate less quickly than electric cars, adding time to each trip, she said.

"With a diesel train operating on an electric schedule small accumulated delays are inevitable," Anders said.

At Stamford on Tuesday morning, riders waiting inside the station and on the platforms shrugged off recent delays and cancellations as unavoidable consequences of January's record-high snowfalls in much of the region.

While waiting for a train, Debra Karp, Matt Cheney, two Stamford residents, and Doreen Hughes, of upstate New York, waited for a local to Harrison, N.Y. to get to work at a financial services firm.

Last week and on Monday, Hughes said she booked into a Stamford hotel so she could get to work.

"It's been a difficult month and I wish I could get back and forth from home," Hughes said.

Karp said that she only rides the train when it snows, but except for a suspension of service last Wednesday, the supply of train and mild delays have been manageable.

"That was cold and frustrating but it hasn't been too bad," Karp said.

Alex Sparkman, who owns a shipping brokerage firm said that he appreciated the effort that Metro-North had made to keep cars running, though the difficult weather highlighted the need for an upgraded communication systems for waiting passengers at stations.

Sparkman said sometimes it was difficult to determine which train was arriving on which platform which could lead to a mistake.

"They could have a television screen on the platform instead of the loudspeaker announcements," Sparkman said. "The announcements are fine for now, but sometimes you don't know which train is pulling in? Is it the 7:30 a.m. that is late or the 8:03 a.m. that is on time?"

Arriving on a train from Stratford, Larry Spamer, a banker who works in Stamford, said the crowding and delays have been an annoyance, but that he has been able to get to the office within a reasonable time frame.

"It's a little bit of extra time," Spamer said.

On Monday, Metro-North President Howard Permut said that they expected difficulties from the current winter storm system, which is expected to last through Wednesday night with alternating periods of snow, sleet, and rain.

Since a foot of snow fell the day after Christmas, Metro-North has been struggling to fix snow-related breakdowns of cars that have at different times put between one-third and last Friday, more than half of the New Haven line's 320 car-fleet out of service.

Over the weekend, Metro-North Railroad ran a Sunday schedule on Saturday to free up tracks for weather-related maintenance and fix cars for Monday morning's commute.

Last Wednesday after nearly a foot of snow fell in Stamford, New Haven Line service was suspended from 4:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

The work included scraping ice off frozen railroad switches, clearing snow from tracks and railyards, and knocking snow off the top of railcars to reduce the probability of damage to pantograph devices used to draw a train's power from overhead wires.

On Monday morning, 139 of the New Haven Line's 320 M-2, M-4, and M-6 cars were out of service, a little more than 80 cars less than the railroad needs to run normal weekday service.

On Monday, New Haven Line assistant mechanical officer John Hogan said that about 20 railcars have been sent to the Hudson line's Croton-Harmon heavy repair facility to be fixed because of the scarcity of shop space to work on cars in New Haven and Stamford.

"We triage the cars in Stamford and then they are towed over there," Hogan said.

Al Alexander, a Stamford resident who works for RBS said that the recent shortage of cars were not unexpected given the age of the M-2 cars.

"It's not too bad and they are doing the best they can do," Alexander said. "Last Wednesday I was also able to find out that the service was suspended and could stay home."
The (Stamford, CT) Advocate

Commuters stand due to lack of seating on a train headed to Grand Central Station on Monday morning, Jan. 31, 2011. Photo: B.K. Angeletti / Connecticut Post

Commuters board a train in Westport that is headed to Grand Central Station on Monday morning, Jan. 31, 2011. Photo: B.K. Angeletti / Connecticut Post

Commuters search for seats after boarding a train in Westport that is headed to Grand Central Station on Monday morning, Jan. 31, 2011. Photo: B.K. Angeletti / Connecticut Post

Commuters stand due to lack of seating on a train headed to Grand Central Station on Monday morning, Jan. 31, 2011. Photo: B.K. Angeletti / Connecticut Post

Commuters wait to board a train in Westport that is headed to Grand Central Station on Monday morning, Jan. 31, 2011. Photo: B.K. Angeletti / Connecticut Post

A Metro North train enters the Westport station on Monday morning, Jan. 31, 2011. Photo: B.K. Angeletti / Connecticut Post

Commuters cope with delays and shortage of seats
John Nickerson and Lisa Chamoff, Staff Writers
Published: 10:47 p.m., Monday, January 31, 2011

Architect Ben Compton said he has stood during many trips to New York over the past few weeks.

"It makes you wonder, because they are short of cars, what is happening with the new train cars they keep talking about?" said Compton, a Stamford resident.

Many riders on the 7:03 a.m. Monday express from Stamford to Grand Central Terminal seemed resigned to schedule delays and a shortage of seats.

Connecticut's fleet of more than 30-year-old rail cars, and their electronic circuitry and wiring, are sensitive to snow and cold weather.

The new M-8 rail cars that were to come online more than a year ago have been delayed by computer and electrical problems.

Clutches of riders standing in the vestibules of the five-car train said they were unhappy with service they have been receiving this winter.

A conductor said the 7:03 usually has eight cars, but repairs reduced the train to five.

"I'm a little disappointed these days," said Heidi Braun, a legal administrator from Stamford.

Braun, who pays $265 per month to ride the train, said she understands that cars are out of service and Metro-North Railroad has had its hands full with a cold and extremely snowy winter.

"I still think we should be able to get a seat," she said.

Maureen Fahy of Stamford said she is late more often than she is on time, though Monday's train was on schedule.

"It is just awful," said Fahy, who stood in an aisle. "It is not reliable anymore."

Standing in a scrum of commuters in a vestibule near the rear of the train, Cihan Barluca, a fraud investigator from Waterbury, said he hears the same excuse every day that cars are being repaired.

"This is an ongoing problem. What are they doing to fix it?" said Barluca, who said sometimes the trains are so crowded that he has to ride between cars.

"Shouldn't they be preparing for the snow?" he asked.

Apex Technical School student Bobby Johnson of Stamford said he never gets a seat on the morning train.

Sitting on a bag in the vestibule he said, "I'm not getting my money's worth. I have to stand. They should add more cars going into the city."

There has been no shortage of delays, combined trains and missed stops. Ralph Pracilio's 7:38 a.m. train from Greenwich Monday morning was about five minutes late.

"As soon as the snow hit, it went nuts," Pracilio said as fellow New Haven Line commuters chugging coffee and checking cell phones rushed by him at Grand Central Terminal.

Greenwich resident John Filippelli, who says he has been commuting via Metro-North for more than 25 years, said the last couple of weeks have been inconvenient, but he felt that under the circumstances, the railroad has "weathered the storms pretty well."

"Yeah, there have been occasional breakdowns and occasional hiccups, but what doesn't in this day and age?" said Filippelli, who is president of production and programming for the YES Network, which broadcasts New York Yankees games. "It's not a perfect system, but it's a system that gets the job done."
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