Metro North Railroad Electrical Disaster



Top picture is a diesel train running because the electricity is out.

Bottom picture is no more: it was the New Haven Railroad’s Cos Cob coal-powered power station. The railroad used to make its own power before jumping in bed with Con Ed.

Partial service could be restored to Metro-North’s New Haven Line this weekend following a massive power failure on Wednesday that brought service to a crawl and clogged the highways, Gov. Dannel Malloy said during a news conference on Thursday afternoon.

A feeder cable serving an eight-mile portion of the New Haven Line’s electric fleet failed on Wednesday. The de-powered section includes four towns and four stations between Stamford and New York.

Malloy warned that repairs could take “as long as three weeks or more,” but said the MTA and power company, Con Edison, are working to restore partial energy to the line as early as Saturday.

He said the plan is to bring in three transformers to provide 13,000 kilowatts of energy to the track.

Con Edison officials said this is something they have not tried before and thier engineers are studying the process.

This is only a fraction of the normal 100,000 kilowatts that service the line, and authorities will conduct tests this weekend to determine the number of trains that can run on this limited-power system.

Malloy said he hopes to release an updated plan no later than Sunday so commuters can arrange their work weeks.

The governor said communication is vitally important and promised a “better protocol” going forward.

“We didn’t receive immediate notification yesterday morning,” he said on Thursday, adding that this made it difficult to alert commuters.

Until the problem is solved, Metro-North is offering limited service on diesel trains, which can accommodate about 30 percent of the New Haven Line’s daily ridership.

Twenty-four diesel trains are now operating on the New Haven Line, according to the MTA. The line normally runs four diesel train sets.

One train is running per hour in both directions and commuters are expecting the commute to be long and crowded. The power problem primarily affects the Metro-North New Haven Line, so train service to and from the New Haven station is limited.

“We realize this is not nearly enough,” the MTA said in a statement on Thursday night. “Customers endured crowded conditions; longer travel times or had to seek alternate means of travel. It is, however, at this time the most service that can be offered in a safe and organized manner given that there is no power for an eight-mile section of the road.”

Malloy has also suspended all roadwork on Interstate 95 to keep traffic flowing during the Metro-North outage, and has offered to move Connecticut trains across the state line to help with increased traffic running through New York.

He encouraged the MTA to reimburse commuters riding the New Haven Line and said he hopes the repair work on a second feeder cable can be expedited to restore power by Oct. 7.

Currently, the maintenance work is scheduled to finish up on Oct. 14, but Malloy said that’s not soon enough.

Con Ed said it could take two to three weeks to repair the 138 kilovolt feeder cable that failed just after 5:20 a.m. Wednesday.The cable brings high voltage power from the Con Ed grid to the railroad’s overhead catenary wires, which power both Metro-North and Amtrak trains through the New Haven line corridor.

A second feeder cable was already out of service for repairs when the failure occurred, according to Con Ed and Metro-North. The railroad was performing upgrades to the power supply in that stretch of track, a spokeswoman said. Without the second feeder cable, Metro-North and Amtrak have resorted to diesel-powered trains running on the hour between Stamford, Conn. and Grand Central Terminal, severely limiting capacity for riders.

Amtrak, which runs over Metro-North’s tracks on the New Haven Line, also suffered “significant delays,” according to a service announcement posted later Wednesday morning. Acela express service was halted between Boston and New York. Some regional service was running, also using diesel-powered locomotives instead of electric locomotives, which draw power from catenary wires over the tracks. Delays from the reduced service radiated along the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak said, as far south as Washington, D.C.

Ms. Anders said the outage had occurred in an area where the railroad and the Connecticut Department of Transportation had been planning to increase the supply of electric power. The Connecticut DOT pays 65% of the operating expenses of the New Haven line.

Workers tried to find ways to restore some power to the crippled New Haven Line before commuters return on Monday, while New York environmental crews assessed a chemical spill at the Mount Vernon, N.Y., substation where the power failure originated, officials said Friday.

Wendy Rosenbach of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation said about 1,000 gallons of fluid — which is under pressure in the electric wires and is used as a coolant — leaked when the wires failed on Wednesday morning. The dielectric fluid does not contain PCBs.

Malloy also said Con Edison planed to test three transformers this weekend in the hopes of getting a portion of the electricity needed to the New Haven Line, Metro-North’s busiest line, which serves Connecticut and parts of suburban Westchester County. There is a good chance that Metro-North and the utility would be able to substitute some kind of power source to provide electrified catenary power to the Pelham, N.Y. through Rye, N.Y. stretch of track before one or the other feeder cable is fixed and put back in service.

In the wake of service problems in past years Metro-North officials have often noted that even with the arrival of the state’s fleet of new M-8 commuter rail cars the New Haven Line requires billions in long deferred investment is needed to modernize the rail line and ensure reliability.

David Hendricks, a member of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council said that he missed two important meetings Wednesday morning as a result of the sudden outage.

Hendricks said that the ability for any one power source to halt electric train service between a swath of track between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal was alarming.

“I’m surprised that there is a single point of failure for electricity serving Metro-North Railroad and that a cable could go out in one place and all service would be disrupted for 50 miles,” Hendricks said. “It’s surprising and also disconcerting.”

Hendricks said that the incident underlines the discussion of recent months about the need for greater investment to ensure the reliability and safety of the New Haven Line, calling the 70-mile railway the “economic lifeline to the region.”

“It’s just one more thing MTA and Metro-North has to deal with and it looks like the list is getting longer,” Hendricks said. “To me it begs more understanding about needing more investment because the more stress we put on the line the more likely things like this are going to happen. It can’t go down, and if it does go down, it has to be back up fast.”

Metro-North and utility company officials plan to throw the switch Saturday afternoon a jury-rigged system that would provide enough power for some electric trains to pass through a section of track knocked out earlier this week after a 138,000-volt feeder cable failed. The mishap brought train service on the nation’s second-busiest rail line to a virtual standstill.

Although there is light at the end of the tunnel for a temporary fix, several of Connecticut’s political leaders continue to insist the railroad work faster to bring service back to normal.

Over the past three days, Con Edison crews have worked feverishly to install three heavy-duty transformers near the Harrison, N.Y., station that will draw power from the local neighborhood and convert it for use by the railroad.

“What we’ve sought to do is almost build another substation overnight,” Con Edison spokesman Bob McGee said Friday. “The idea is to get power that Metro-North can use as quickly as possible.”

That power will replace what was lost when a large feeder cable for the railroad’s electricity gave out early Wednesday in Mount Vernon, N.Y., setting off three days of travel chaos.

The temporary system will provide less than 10 percent of the normal power to the line, but Metro-North believes that should be enough to get at least one electric train through the affected area every 15 minutes. Officials said they will have an idea if the fix is working by Sunday night.


Amtrak Second Track to Schenectady is Moving Ahead


Ties have been delivered, access roads and staging areas built, and work is getting under way on nearly $200 million in passenger rail improvements in the Capital Region.

The wooden ties will be used to rehabilitate the existing single track between Albany and Schenectady, which has caused delays for years as trains waited for other trains traveling in the opposite direction to clear the track.

A fourth track was always planned for the Rensselaer rail station, but was postponed when money ran out.

The result: Trains often have to wait just outside the station for other trains to clear one of the three existing tracks.

While the improvements — which also include new signals south of Rensselaer that are more resistant to adverse weather, as well as improvements that will make road crossings safer — won’t speed your trip, they’re intended to reduce delays that can add minutes and occasionally hours to your trip.

The Empire Corridor is one of Amtrak‘s busiest. Nearly 100,000 people used the line between the Capital Region and New York City in July alone.

From Rensselaer, passengers can also take trains east to Boston, north to Montreal and Rutland, and west to Chicago.

So where do the improvement projects stand?

State Department of Transportation spokesman Beau Duffy said Amtrak would request proposals from a short list of contractors later this fall for work that includes the second track between Albany and Schenectady, and the fourth track and platform work at the Rensselaer station.

Utica COMETS are in Serious Practice Sessions


The Utica Comets are very serious.

Thanks to a friend for the picture (I’m 6 time zones away, so the Comets are a GLOBAL thing).

Darren Archibald finds himself in Utica, working on his National Hockey League dream as a member of the new Utica Comets. A 6-foot-3, 212-pound left wing from Newmarket, Ontario, he spent most of last season with the Chicago Wolves. If he is disappointed in being sent down to the American Hockey League again by the Vancouver Canucks, he isn’t moping about it.

Archibald and more than two dozen other players were at the Aud as head coach Travis Green led the Comets through their first practice on their home ice. Green, who scored 193 goals in a 16-year NHL career and won a Western Hockey League championship with the Portland Winterhawks in his first season as a head coach last winter, expects a few more players to be added to the roster shortly. The squad will be whittled down to 22 to 24 by the time the Comets open the regular season Oct. 11 at Rochester. It wasn’t the first time Green has been in the Aud. He was with the Capital District Islanders for three seasons when Utica’s previous AHL team, the Devils, were in the league.

What it will look like is what Green and assistant coaches Paul Jerrard and Nolan Baumgartner, both former pro defensemen, will be working on.

“I’m pleased with the effort,” Green said after the first of two split squad practices Wednesday. “Some spots are taken on the team. That’s just the way it is. Some are open. But the best players will play.”

The Comets play at the Hershey Bears on Friday, and will play the Adirondack Phantoms on Sunday at Kennedy Arena in Rome.

The training camp roster for the Utica Comets is set. Camp begins this week, and the team’s first official practice was Wednesday afternoon at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

The Comets will be in Pennsylvania for a preseason game Friday at Hershey. They will host the Adirondack Phantoms in a preseason game Sunday at Rome’s Kennedy Arena, and their final preseason tune-up will be Tuesday, Oct. 3, at the Hamilton Bulldogs.The Comets open the season on the road Oct. 11 at Rochester, and they open their home schedule Oct. 23 against the Albany Devils.

Training Camp Roster
: Joe Cannata, Mathieu Corbeil, Joacim Eriksson.

Defenseman: Peter Andersson, Jeremie Blain, Alex Biega, Sacha Guimond, Patrick Mullen, John Negrin, Adam Polasek, Yann Sauve, Henrik Tommernes, Brad Walch, Louis Liotti.

Forwards: Steven Anthony, John Armstrong, Darren Archibald, Ludwig Blomstrand, Kurtis Bartliff, Brandon DeFazio, Alex Friesen, Alexandre Grenier, Yanni Gourde, Daultan Leveille, Kellan Lain, Wesley Myron, Pascal Pelletier, David Pacan, Colin Stuart, Kellan Tochkin, Alexandre Mallet, Mitch Elliot, Jesse Mychan, Benn Ferriero.

SCM Financial Analysis


Let’s put ourselves in the position of a financial analyst for your company’s Supply Chain Management division. You will have a diversity of functions in your area of responsibility: CRM, EDI, Logistics, Procurement and others. Your challenge is to communicate effectively with a variety of individuals on the staff. Don’t go over their heads with number-packed reports. Know the staff. They are “action” people. Bet you find they like words and graphs better. Use their language. Remember, your not in the hallowed halls of finance; you are out where the money is made (or lost).

Tramway ‘à la française’


Reliability, capacity, clean and green, urban regenerator, and vector of economic growth… despite the eulogies bestowed on the modern-day tramway, this mode of collective transport has not always had an easy ride in France.

Effectively erased from country’s transport map after the Second World War (idem other many European cities), the original tramways of every French city (with the exception of St Etienne, Lille, and Marseille) fell victim to a combination of circumstances – limited fuel during the war and tram systems that were already feeling their age. As a consequence, the networks were heavily used and so frequently overcrowded, plus they offered less than comfortable interiors (wooden slated seats and too hot/too cold temperatures hardly enhance the passenger experience!). There is little doubt that priority at the time was getting from A to B.

Post-war, between 1950 and the early 70s, tramways were phased out in favour of the car, which at the time embodied the ‘liberté’ of the French national motto. But beyond this golden age, when the freedom of the car started to feel the squeeze of congestion, when the oil crisis of 1973 hit home, city authorities started eyeing up the tram again. The mode appeared to offer all that was now desirable: reliability, capacity, clean and green, urban regenerator, and vector of economic growth. Plus there was all-important cost factor (cheaper than a metro system), too.

Lot of cool stuff going on with the Saratoga & North Creek Railway


First of all, Gino’s Rail Page is covering the steam excursions. PLUS A LOT MORE

Newsday Travel listed the Saratoga & North Creek Railway as an “off road excursion” for a great way to take in the fall foliage while letting someone else do the driving. Or for a “bird’s eye view of it all ” they recommend the gondolas at Gore Mountain which you can access from our train stop in North Creek.
 Autumn has arrived in the Adirondacks‏


irondacks in Autumn
Mother Nature shows her true cols
n Autumn
Mother Nature shows her true colors
Don’t just take our word for it   
Newsday Travel listed the Saratoga & North Creek Railway as an “off road excursion” for a great way to take in the fall foliage while letting someone else do the driving. Or for a “bird’s eye view of it all ” they recommend the gondolas at Gore Mountain which you can access from our train stop in North Creek.
Adirondack Fall Foliage Report

Monitor the progress of the colors by contacting the official New York State tourism department at  800-CALLNYS or or try the following sites:

The Day When The Town Of Tahawus Moved

ImageFifty years ago, the National Lead company decided to move its workforce from the mining village of Tahawus, which sits at the edge of the High Peaks. An entire community vanished almost overnight.

Read more by Andy Flynn, in Newcomb, NY published in the North Country Public Radio Regional News.

See more on the history of Tahawus on the Adirondack Forum.

Utica Comets Opener Will Be A Big Event


Home opener Wednesday, Oct. 23 will not only feature great hockey, but with the help Galaxy Communications, there will be a fan fest too. A lot of cool names will be there too: starting with  NHL Hall of Famer Gordie Howe. Plus the Hanson brothers (Steve and Jeff Carlson) from the movie “Slapshot” and ’80s rock band Night Ranger. The Bud Light Utica Comets Fan Fest, which will take place along Whitesboro Street across from Utica Memorial Auditorium, is free and open to the public.

The Comets also announced that single-game tickets will go on sale beginning Saturday, Oct. 5. Prices range from $15 to $25. Comets officials said they’ve already sold more than 1,000 season tickets, and they anticipate that the Aud will be filled to capacity opening night.

Howe, 85, is one of the most revered players of all time – so much so his nickname is “Mr. Hockey.” He played for the Detroit Red Wings and Hartford Whalers of the National Hockey League, and the Houston Aeros and New England Whalers in the World Hockey Association. He career lasted from 1946 through 1980.

Big connection with the Hanson Brothers too. Scenes from the movie were filmed at the Aud

The fan fest will begin at 4 p.m. and conclude with a fireworks display just before the puck drops for the 7:30 p.m. start against the Albany Devils.

For all the details on Fan Fest and everything Utica Comets – www.

Read even more:

All Aboard Florida


A Florida Company Profile

Ticket to ride on FECI’s ‘All Aboard Florida’

Florida East Coast Industries believes it can make money offering a service no private company has offered.

Mike Vogel | 8/28/2013

Florida East Coast Industries is one of Florida’s ultimate hard assets companies. With roots in the railroad that date back to Henry Flagler in the 1890s, FECI was incorporated in 1983 as a holding company for the railroad and the real estate assets it had acquired over decades — a solid but unglamorous collection of rail yards and industrial sites that were reliable breadwinners but didn’t seem to offer the opportunity to make a financial killing.

In 2007, Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based private equity firm, bought FECI for $3.5 billion and installed a management team that has gone about finding ways to wring big returns from those old assets. The Fortress execs have carved the company into four operating units that collectively encompass rights-of-way management, real estate and logistic services (see “Old Assets, New Organization,” here).

Interestingly, the freight rail company, Florida East Coast Railway, isn’t among FECI’s operating units: Fortress made it an independent company that it owns separately, along with the 350 miles of track between Jacksonville and Miami on which the railroad operates its freight trains.

When Fortress decided to separate the freight company from the rest of the business, however, it included a provision that has become the basis for FECI’s fourth and most surprising venture: Private passenger rail service.

FECI retained all non-freight rights from Miami to Jacksonville on the railroad right-of-way corridor, including passenger service.

If it comes to fruition, All Aboard Florida will be the first private intercity passenger rail service in America since 1971, when government-subsidized Amtrak took over passenger train operation nationally.

For decades, fast passenger rail has been the stuff of presidential State of the Union wish lists and the dream of those who want to see Americans out of their cars and into mass transit. All Aboard Florida tickles those fancies and stokes the passions of free-market advocates as well. FECI will invest $2 billion in the All Aboard rail system that will be privately owned and running just four years after Gov. Rick Scott was heavily criticized for rejecting federal funding to build high-speed rail between Orlando and Tampa.

All Aboard won’t be true high-speed rail — its trains can reach 125 mph only on the short leg from Cocoa to Orlando, where there are no crossings. But it will be fast for a train, covering the 240 miles between south Florida and Orlando International Airport in three hours with stations only in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

All Aboard will be fast to the market too — announced in 2012 and running by the end of 2015. “It’s the beginning of a revolution in passenger rail,” says Bruce Richardson, president of the United Rail Passenger Alliance, a national non-profit based in Jacksonville.

Vincent Signorello, a member of Fortress’ private equity team who became CEO of Florida East Coast Industries in 2011, says FECI always intended to move fast to bring passenger rail to the tracks.

Most people, however, expected that passenger service to be Amtrak and south Florida commuter service Tri-Rail. Both have pined for years to run on the track, which runs down Florida’s east coast and, in south Florida, east of I-95. Amtrak now runs on CSX’s line, which takes it on a bow through central Florida, while Tri-Rail runs on a line that leaves commuters west of where many work.

Husein Cumber, FECI executive vice president for corporate development, says the entreaties from Tri-Rail and Amtrak focused FECI’s leadership on passenger rail, but the company saw pitfalls in government projects. Government subsidies and grants were uncertain, Cumber says, so FECI began wondering how it might deliver passenger rail without relying on handouts from a cash-strapped public sector.

Meanwhile, in 2010 and 2011, with the promise of $2.4 billion in federal stimulus cash to fund it, eight teams of industry players were vying to build high-speed rail between Orlando and Tampa. Cumber says FECI noticed that teams coveted a proposed $8-billion, 10-year project to extend the high-speed rail from Orlando to Miami.

If those companies saw such opportunity, FECI leaders thought FECI should look into it. In 2012, the company launched ridership studies. An initial draft by Morristown, N.J.-based consulting firm Louis Berger Group reported that after a three-year ramp-up to get travelers accustomed to the service, All Aboard would draw 3.29 million riders a year, generating $145 million in revenue, and would grow ridership at 1.3% per year, keeping pace with overall growth in the travel market. More recent estimates put no ceiling on ridership, estimating a market of 50 million trips each year for which All Aboard Florida can compete — trips beginning and ending near a proposed station. About 75% of the train’s projected ridership is leisure travelers, with the remaining 25% business travelers.

FECI executives also were encouraged that the Orlando-Miami run could be done in three hours, making it competitive with driving. Signorello says the time to cover the miles is consistent with similar, successful rail passenger operations worldwide. All Aboard is “right in the center of the strike zone,” he says.

The last train to try struck out. In 1997, the Florida Fun Train debuted, using the CSX line, as a “theme park on wheels,” ferrying people between Osceola County and south Florida. But it was routinely late by hours, as CSX trains took priority on the tracks, and struggled to meet the “inordinate” insurance costs that came with not owning the rail line, says Allen C. Harper, who was chairman of the Fun Train’s parent company and who now runs American Heritage Railways, an operator of excursion trains in Colorado and North Carolina.

FECI’s control of the rail line will make the difference, Harper says. “It’s got so much better chance of working than Florida Fun Train ever did. You’re so far ahead of the game capital cost-wise,” Harper says. Another factor favoring the train is a decline in airline flights each week from south Florida to Orlando, which fell from 358 in 2001 to 130 in 2011.

All Aboard also should benefit from millions of international tourists who want to visit both south Florida and Orlando. “It’s natural for them to say, ‘Oh, is there a train?’ ” says Richardson. FECI will be helped by the money it can make developing the nine-acre tract in downtown Miami where All Aboard Florida will have its station, and from parcels it purchased in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach where it plans stations. The three sites come to 5 million square feet in entitlements.

Meanwhile, FECI has assembled an executive team for All Aboard, including two former Disney executives, to decide on the design of cars and choose a company to operate the line. It’s talked of stylish settings, premium food and beverage service, wi-fi and an hourly schedule during the daytime with no service overnight.

Other developers are salivating at the prospect of intercity passenger rail. MDM Group, for instance, contracted to buy the one-time site of the Miami Arena to build an 1,800-room hotel and convention center that would be connected by bridges to the All Aboard station.

For the train to run by 2015, however, FECI has hurdles to overcome. In June, the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority and the state transportation department approved a lease for land along the Beachline Expressway to Cocoa that All Aboard needs to connect to its own track. (The state will take $275,000 a year for its portion; no financial terms have been set with the authority.)

But the authority lease has a long list of conditions All Aboard must meet. Meanwhile, the train’s coming has caused planners and interested parties, such as Deseret Ranches of Florida, a major owner of land along the road, to raise concerns about All Aboard’s impact and advance their own ideas for use and development.

The train also creates issues for local governments along the route, including noise from train horns and station envy. “We hope All Aboard Florida stops here eventually,” says Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish. Meanwhile, Palm Beach County Mayor Steve Abrams, who chairs the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Tri-Rail’s parent, hopes All Aboard will lead to Tri-Rail also moving on the FECI-controlled lines. “They’ve been supportive,” he says.

Cumber says FECI’s priority is making All Aboard successful, not moving Amtrak or Tri-Rail to the line. As for other train stops, he says that if at a future date added stops and links — whether Cocoa, Tampa or Jacksonville — show a promise of profit, All Aboard will pursue them, but not now.

Signorello considers his company’s other new divisions equally as important as the All Aboard venture, particularly the moving of goods from ports to consumers and to-and-from Latin America, a bread-and-butter supply chain and logistics business called South Florida Logistics Service.

“What we’re doing there is as transformational, if not more transformational, than All Aboard Florida,” he says. “We’re committing a lot of money to that business today, and it will be just as instrumental in shaping the economy of Florida, particularly south Florida, as All Aboard Florida will.”

And what FECI hopes to accomplish with all of its divisions — whether moving cargo or moving people — is the same: A hefty return on investment. FECI doesn’t disclose its revenue or profit margins, but Signorello says the company’s aim always is to at least double its money with each investment. “We like to use that as a floor, not a ceiling,” he says.

Like the other three FECI units, All Aboard’s final stop could be the selling block. A feature of FECI’s structure is that every unit stands independent — even the Miami land where All Aboard will have its station is underwritten as a separate investment — with its own management team and its own capital structure, ready to be spun off cleanly to buyers.

“We’re constantly measuring the moment in time when our capital investment should end and someone else’s should begin,” Signorello says. “We are in the early days for a couple of these projects so we’ll continue to invest a lot of capital.”


Check Out the All Aboard Florida WebSite


Massachusetts Governor and Staff Look at Housatonic Railroad for Passenger Travel

ImageView of the railroad going through the village of Housatonic.

The stations are circled. The left one is the passenger station, the right is the freight station.

Massachusetts officials are considering a proposal to return passenger-rail service to the Housatonic Railroad.Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard Davey and other MassDOT officials joined Governor Patrick  for a 37-mile tour to observe the line’s condition in key areas.

The Housatonic Railroad, which runs from Pittsfield to Sheffield at the Massachusetts-Connecticut state border, currently is used for freight service between Pittsfield and points south into Connecticut. A proposal to return passenger-rail service to the 90-mile corridor between Pittsfield and Danbury, Conn., has been discussed for the past several years. In Danbury, riders could connect with Metro North Railroad and reach New York City.

Restoring passenger-rail service would cost about $113 million for track rehabilitation, signal system installation, grade crossing improvements, and construction or reconstruction of six stations along the corridor within Massachusetts, administration officials said.

Although Massachusetts could afford the investment on its end, Connecticut also would have to commit to sharing in the cost in order for passenger service to reach New York City, Patrick said after the tour, according to local news media reports.

In January, MassDOT received federal highway discretionary funds to support a station location and design analysis study for passenger service.