Gov. Dannel P. Malloy delivered beleaguered rail commuters a jolt of confidence Sunday when he announced a $10 million project to boost electric capacity on Metro-North's New Haven Line.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after an electrical problem shut down service on the nation's busiest single rail line here in Connecticut — an event that led to sharp criticism from Malloy and other elected officials and commuters alike, of Metro-North management. The rail line also experienced a major disruption in September due to a power failure in New York.
Project Description and Management Plan
The new $10 million project will begin Feb. 3 in Cos Cob, and is expected to be completed in two phases by mid-March.
According to a press release from Malloy's office, Metro-North operates the New Haven Line under a contract with the Connecticut Department of Transportation and will manage the project in conjunction with Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P). CL&P has been contracted to do the work and will install new transformers to replace four aging transformers at Cos Cob, in Greenwich, to ensure reliability and safe operation of the electric supply that powers New Haven Line trains, the release states.
This will implement redundant power for this portion of the New Haven Line and increase the power supply by almost doubling the capacity of the two west transformers from 16 megawatts to 30 megawatts and matching the capacity of the two east transformers that have already been replaced, according to the release.
At the state’s direction, Metro-North has prepared detailed project management and contingency plans to the project’s success, including complete substitute service plans in the event of any power issues.
“Because of lessons learned by Metro-North during a serious disruption to New Haven Line service last fall during a power upgrade to the power supply at Mount Vernon, the work at Cos Cob is being done in stages and a comprehensive contingency plan has been developed,” said Metro-North Senior Vice President for Operations John Kesich. “When completed, the new power capacity will allow for the future growth of rail service on the line.”
“The implementation of this project is designed to prevent a disruption of service similar to one caused by a Con Edison power outage in Mount Vernon last fall,” said ConnDOT Commissioner James Redeker. “Both CL&P and Metro-North have partnered to ensure a successful project for New Haven Line customers.”
'We Want to Ensure Riders Have as Safe and Reliable a Commute as Possible'
“The New Haven Line is the busiest single rail line in the country and, each day, takes more than 60,000 travelers off of our already congested highways,” Malloy said. “In anticipation of adding even more service on this state-owned rail corridor, we want to ensure riders have as safe and reliable a commute as possible and prevent the major system interruptions that we experienced in September.”
Asked on Twitter if the electric boost will make a difference for New Haven Line commuters, the advocacy group CT Rail Commuters responded this way: "Redundancy is good but it doesn't fix tracks, add seats."
Meeting Between MTA, Metro-North and Malloy
During a press conference Sunday in New Haven, Malloy also announced his plans to meet face-to-face with the incoming President of Metro-North, Joe Giulietti, and Thomas F. Prendergast, chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Metro-North’s parent agency. That meeting will take place on Feb. 13.
“Connecticut and Metro-North have a strong partnership and a serious commitment to providing a safe and reliable service and ever-improving customer service and communications,” said the MTA’s Prendergast of the upcoming meeting. “Connecticut has made tremendous investments in our rail infrastructure in recent years thanks to Governor Malloy. Joe Giulietti and I look forward to this meeting, which will give all of us a chance to discuss challenges and opportunities for the thousands of customers we serve every day.”
Metro-North’s New Haven Line is the busiest single rail line in the United States. It provided a record-breaking 38.8 million customer trips in 2012, an increase of 4 percent in ridership from 2010. Last year, the New Haven Line carried a daily average of just over 106,000 riders.