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New Haven Catenary Replacement Project Update (May 6)


With the completion of the New Haven Line catenary work in the seven-mile stretch between Southport and Bridgeport, we"ll be able to route peak period trains on all four tracks in this area for the first time in four years. This progress will give us greater operating flexibility and the ability to "run around" potential service disruptions during emergencies.

This work had required two of the four tracks to be out of service continuously, and had required trains to slow down while passing the work zone and when changing tracks at either end of the construction area. The impact of having all tracks available for service in this key area will be increased flexibility in scheduling trains during peak periods, the elimination of temporary speed restrictions and less impact to trains when there are operational problems in this section of the railroad. .

This work is being funded and managed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. One track was returned to service in time for the May 11th schedule change and the other is expected to return later this month.

A lot has been accomplished since work in this section started in November 2007. All catenary wire that powers the trains has been changed out -- including complicated wire work at the Southport and Bridgeport interlockings (the section of track, signals and switches allowing trains to cross over from one track to another).

We also replaced four open-deck railroad bridges in Bridgeport and Fairfield (at North Benson Road, Fairfield Ave., South Ave. and Westway Road) with closed-deck ballast-style ones that provides a smoother ride. Another bridge (at Main St. in Bridgeport) was removed and filled in with backfill material flanked by retaining walls.

With completion of this section, 79% of the Connecticut catenary replacement project will have been finished. At the end of August, the contractor will move on to the final two segments of catenary work, which when finished in spring of 2017, will signal the completion of the project on the Connecticut-side of the line! (Replacement of the catenary on the New York State portion of the line was completed in 1995.)

The two segments -- from East Norwalk to Green's Farms and from Bridgeport to Devon -- will involve replacement of about 10-1/2 miles of catenary along track and in our Bridgeport Yard.

This new work will require a continuous outage of only one of four tracks, which will have a minimal impact on our operations in the area.

When completed, this project will replace the original catenary first erected in 1907. The old "fixed termination" catenary system (which can sag or contract due to changes in temperature, resulting in wire damage) is being replaced with a state-of-the-art constant tension system. As the name implies, this type of construction can better accommodate temperature extremes.

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