A Message to Our New Haven Line, New Canaan, Danbury & Waterbury Branch Customers
The recent trend of late trains on the New Haven Line, including the New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury Branch Lines, has primarily been the result of extensive, ongoing upgrades to infrastructure to ensure safe operations and make our service more reliable for the future. While the infrastructure work is necessary and in many cases, the train delays are unavoidable, we realize there is room for improvement in how we communicate with our customers.
On the New Haven Line, delays have been largely the result of track outages and speed restrictions necessary to accommodate an unprecedented infrastructure investment program funded by the State of Connecticut. Much of this work will continue into 2019 and beyond.
Projects include the construction of new bridges in Greenwich and Stamford, the continuation of our overhead catenary power replacement program, and the construction of a new railroad interlocking in East Norwalk. To accommodate the work, tracks have been taken out of service; unfortunately, however, with fewer tracks in service, our flexibility is reduced if another operational issue should arise.
This robust capital investment program also extends to the New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury Branch Lines. Projects include resurfacing track, welding joints, tree trimming, Positive Train Control (PTC) installations, grade crossing renewals, and installation of new railroad ties. The potential for train delays on the branch lines is compounded by late train service on the New Haven Line. This summer, two-thirds of all train delays on the branch lines were the result of late connections with New Haven Line trains. Work will continue on the branch lines through the fall, and we will make every effort to minimize service impacts.
Another frequent cause of train delays on the Danbury Branch and Waterbury Branch Lines are locomotive failures. To address this issue, Metro-North Railroad has initiated a diesel locomotive overhaul program. The first of these overhauled locomotives are scheduled to be in service before the end of 2018 with others being placed into service over the next few years. These locomotives will bring a much higher degree of reliability to the Danbury Branch and Waterbury Branch Lines.
Finally, when service is disrupted, particularly on the Danbury Branch and Waterbury Branch Lines where the number of trains is more limited, our goal is to provide alternate bus service whenever possible. Unfortunately, we have been unable to do that in a number of instances as our partner bus companies have been unable to supply buses when requested. We realize this can be a significant inconvenience to our customers, so we are redoubling our efforts to ensure buses are available. The need for buses should subside as the reliability of our rail fleet improves in the coming months.
This explanation and upcoming customer forums for our branch line customers represent our commitment to improve how we communicate with our valued customers. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we carry out these critical projects. Our track and infrastructure work will not only make our system safer; it is also an investment in the future reliability of our system, which is something that you rightfully expect and deserve.
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