About 130,000 commuters in Connecticut will wake up Monday morning to marginally improved rail service to New York after officials wrestling over the weekend with a power outrage managed to restore what they hope will be about 50% of normal operations.
"There will be noticeable improvement in the frequency of trains," Aaron Donovan, a Metro-North spokesman, said about the commuter railway's New Haven line. The line feeds passengers from 38 stations in 23 towns to New York's Grand Central Station.
Metro-North is the nation's second busiest commuter rail line, after MTA's Long Island Rail Road, and officials were anticipating that those trains available would be jammed Monday. They encouraged commuters to avoid rush hour if possible.
Highways were packed with people driving to work last week after the power outage Wednesday slashed Metro- North commuter service to about a third of usual capacity. It was the worst breakdown in rail service since Superstorm Sandy last October.
Amtrak trains running between Boston and New York were delayed up 90 minutes because of the power problems. Amtrak officials said Sunday that the New York-to-Boston Acela Express will resume service Monday morning.
Meanwhile, regional Amtrak trains through that corridor — which have had to switch to diesel, a process that has caused delays of up to 90 minutes — will continue to operate that way and delays may continue, said Amtrak spokesman Craig Schultz.
Con Ed spokesman Allan Drury said the cause of the power failure to the rail line has not yet been determined. "Right now, the focus is on restoring power to the tracks," he said.
Crews set up a temporary power substation in Harrison, N.Y. to provide the additional voltage that will allow Metro-North to increase capacity for Monday, he said.
The stricken section of 8-mile track is between Harrison and Mount Vernon, N.Y. Only two electric trains can be accommodated at one time. The 50% service Monday will be provided by a mix of electric and diesel trains, Metro-North said.
Full power should be restored by Oct. 7 and full train service the day after, a week ahead of what Con Ed had planned, Drury said Sunday.
Metro-North will also be opening up more than 8,600 free park-and-ride spaces at locations where other rail lines or buses will be available for commuters. The latest train schedule is available at mta.info/mnr.
Contributing: The Associated Press