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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Catenary Work Could Cause Delays

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By James Lomuscio

Work on the Merto-North New Haven Line catenary system—the overhead lines that power trains— set to begin Monday on two tracks between Southport and Bridgeport should have no effect on Westport commuters “unless something extraordinary happens,” a Metro-North spokeswoman said today. Image
Work on the catenary system, first erected in 1907, has been going on since 1991. MTA photo

“Generally, it’s not going to mean anything because it’s the two inside tracks that do not have platforms,” said Metro-North’s Marjorie Anders. “But if something goes wrong, if there’s a tree that falls on the tracks, or if a train breaks down, there will be delays.”

The reason: the inside tracks used to travel around blockages during normal service will be off limits.

“We use all four tracks for local and express trains, and it (the catenary work) puts constraints on our operating flexibility,” Anders said. “Ordinary service will not be affected, but in the event of extraordinary events, like a stuck train, there will be delays.”

According to, catenary work is expected to continue through the end of November. Work will include catenary wire replacement, bridge construction and the installation of interlocking wire, the site says.

“This leaves us with only two of four tracks in service in this 7-mile area, impacting our operating flexibility and ability to combat potential service disruptions during emergencies,” the site says.

“And although we will work diligently to ensure we provide you with the best commute possible during this period, some of you may experience occasional train delays and service disruptions.”

Work on the catenary system has been going on since 1991, replacing lines first erected in 1907, according to the MTA.

It said the Connecticut portion of the line has seen the replacement of wires from New York/Connecticut State Line to just east of South Norwalk, and from Milford to New Haven (including an interface with the Amtrak shoreline catenary system east of New Haven Station).

Currently about 59 percent of the catenary replacement work in Connecticut has been finished, the MTA said.

From 1991 to 1995, on the New York State portion of the New Haven Line, third rail replaced existing catenary wire from Woodlawn to just north of Mt. Vernon East, according to the agency.

New catenary wire was also installed from Pelham to Port Chester.

“The catenary project is being done to replace the older, existing fixed termination catenary system with a state-of-the-art constant tension system,” according to the MTA website.

“As the name implies, this type of construction can better accommodate temperature extremes.”

Posted 03/14/12 at 09:14 PM


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