Tag Archives: metro north railroad

Metro-North Embarks On Final Phase Of Catenary Wire Project In Norwalk

 The end is in sight for Metro-North Railroad as work begins Sept. 6 on the final phase of a massive catenary wire replacement project on the New Haven Line in Connecticut.

Work will begin on two segments — one from East Norwalk to Greens Farms and another from Bridgeport to Milford. The work will start simultaneously and involve the replacement of about 10.5 miles of catenary along track and in the Bridgeport Yard, Metro-North said in a release.

When this phase is done in spring of 2017, the catenary upgrade project in Connecticut will be completed.

One of the four tracks will be out of continuous service while this work is done, which will have a minimal impact on train operations in the area, Metro-North said. This project is funded and managed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Metro-North recently completed catenary work in the 7-mile stretch between Southport and Bridgeport, allowing peak-period trains to be rerouted on all four tracks in this area for the first time in four years.

“It also gave back to us greater operating flexibility and the ability to ‘run around’ potential service disruptions during emergencies,” Metro-North said in a statement. “With completion of this segment, 80 percent of the Connecticut catenary replacement project is finished.”

The aging catenary wires, which power the trains from above along the New Haven Line, were more than a century old. Problems with the wires caused frequent service issues, especially in extreme weather, as the wires sagged or contracted due to temperature changes.

“A lot has been accomplished since work in this section started in November 2007,” Metro-North said. “All catenary wire that powers the trains has been changed out — including complicated wire work at the Southport and Bridgeport interlockings.”

Those are the section of track, signals and switches that allowing trains to cross over from one track to another.

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

When this work is completed, Metro-North will have replaced the original “fixed termination” catenary, first erected in 1907, with a state-of-the-art constant tension system that better accommodates temperature extremes. Work to replace the New York State portion of the line was completed in 1995.

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Even More About Bar Cars


Continuing are article on Bar Cars. Picture above is when the current cars first started. CONNECTICUT POST got into the act today:

STAMFORD — As the state pours more than $1 billion into new rail cars, no money has been put into the tap to replace the 10 bar cars that are facing their last call by year’s end.

The state’s transportation commissioner has given assurances that bar car service along Metro-North’s New Haven Line will continue, but a final design for a bar car compatible with the new fleet of M8 cars has not been completed, and the legislature has not approved funding for them.

The bar cars on the New Haven Line — the last in operation on any commuter line in the country — are also facing competition from the more profitable drink carts on the platforms at Grand Central Terminal and from the need for additional seating as ridership continues to increase.

The fluorescent-lit, orange and wood-paneled cars have a dedicated following that seeks them out on websites and Twitter feeds, but as some of the 1970s-era trains have been retired and others go out for repairs, they are becoming a sort of speakeasy on the rails.


Bar Cars: End of an Era?


Used to be a lot of bar cars on a lot of railroads. Most are gone. In the 1970’s “new” cars were built for what is now Metro North. Now these cars need to be replaced and a debate is going on to replace them or to get out of the bar car business.

The bar cars don’t run as frequently as they used to as some are already retired, but there is a WebSite for tracking current bar cars running and what trains they are on

Picture above is of the most famous bar car. Only the New Haven could come up with a car name such as “V:XI-GBC.” This translated to, “5:11 Gentlemen’s Bar Car”. The New Haven had little to do with choice of names. Despite the Pullman pool livery, it was railroad owned after 1956.

Here is a story of the bar cars that replaced older “conversions” when the New Haven and rest of current Metro North upgraded to the M1, M2, etc in the 1970’s.

We have lots of information on bar cars in general and the “V:XI-GBC.” in particular. See the Connecticut Railfan WebSite and the Commuters Website.

Information below is from the New Haven Technical & Historical Society:

  1. The V:XI GBC was NEVER a private club car
  2. The Cars history is as follows Built 1913 as Plan 2411A 12 sec  1 Dr, 1 Cpt, with Gothic arched windows as La Fourche. Rebuilt as Wall Street 4007A on 12/20/30 and assigned to the Reading for NY Phila service. It was an error in the records that the car was renamed Westward Ho It never happened. The cars were renumbered for the NHRR by the NHRR
  3. Wall Street was bought in 12/31/45 by the NHRR and leased back to Pullman for operation until 12/54. The car was painted NH #13 Pull Green and later TTG on 9/28/54.
  4. The Wamsutta is a totally different car with Ice A/C and 242a trucks which could not be V:XI GBC. That was an error by the authors of the guide. And the RR records have a glitch in them.
  5. I and other students of the Pullman NHRR operations came to the conclusion that the cars were not renamed but renumbered to group them for RR service as Pullman only tracked cars at that time by NAME only. The best evidence is the Plymouth up at RMNE.

Shown below are some comments on the possible demise of the Metro North Connecticut line bar cars:

Given that they’re worn out and it’s not worth the expense of converting the unpowered singlet option orders into bar cars, do the M8’s (or M7’s) have the capability of interfacing with a generic coach if it’s sandwiched between MU’s? I would think propulsion would not be an issue for one unpowered outlier sandwiched on a longer consist driven by, like, 3 powered pairs since they are capable of trainlining with singlets. But are the MU’s capable of providing compatible hotel power for a “foreign” car and otherwise keeping the consist in systems sync through a foreign car? Because if they can do that with unpowered MU singlets it would seem like an unnecessary design compromise to totally preclude coupling, system compatibility, and communication pass-thru with just one generic sandwiched in the set. You know, like a private car for special runs. Unless there’s something that special about the MU’s design requiring a fully custom singlet.

What a lot of people do not understand is bar cars are underutilized money loosing cars.
yes bar service is profitable, but the bar car is NOT, so both MTA and CDOT are seeing less and less need for bar cars.

Converting a coach to work with MU’s would require a complete electrical revamp, a different brake system, a hep source trough control wiring, pantograph/third rail gear etc etc and only for a car that carries only 25% of passenger capacity of regular car and is only used in Bar service one out of 4 trips.

Every seat counts. I cannot see a clear enough reason to give up seats to sell drinks on board the train when there are dozens of bartenders selling their products in GCT.

Replacement/s trains will become the ‘brown bag specials’ and the ‘carry out ltd’s’!!! Martinis and Manhattans in ‘sip’n’staw’ boxes!!

Nothing so sinister, the bar carts in GCT openly sell same stuff for you to carry to your seat at a much higher profit but at same price.
A bar cart sells 10 times amount of Alcohol of a Bar car, but with very little down time and no expensive railcar to maintain.

Start serving breakfast & lunch on those things sell a contract to Dunkin Doughnuts etc I am sure someone will buy out the space outside evening rush hour. Their can definitely be a profit for the bar cars.

Impossble to do, US health code could never be satisfied.
No wash facility, no bathroom with proper facilities for food establishment etc etc etc

Spuyten Duyvil Metro-North Railroad Accident: “Are We There Yet?”


Been a week since this trategy and a lot has happened.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation continues but shouldn’t be too long before publishing. It is unlike the Canada process (that recent oil train iwreck n Québec) which usually takes a year.

U.S. transportation officials ordered the Metro-North Railroad on Friday to quickly overhaul its signal system and temporarily put an extra worker in the driver’s cab on some routes that have major speed changes, including the one where a speeding commuter train derailed this week, killing four people

The emergency order by the Federal Railroad Administration was a reaction to Sunday’s wreck in the Bronx, where a train flew off the tracks after hitting a curve at 82 mph, nearly three times the 30 mph speed limit. The lone train operator told investigators he nodded at the controls and didn’t apply the brakes until it was too late.

The order gives the railroad until Dec. 31 to provide the Federal Railroad Administration with a plan and target dates for modifying the existing signal system so that trains will automatically slow down in places where the speed limit drops by more than 20 mph.

Until those signal changes are made, the order will require the rail line to put at least two qualified workers in the operator’s cab on sections of track where speeds vary.

On some routes, this may mean that a conductor can head to the cab and accompany the engineer for a few minutes when the train is approaching a slower zone. On others, there will have to be an extra crew member who makes the whole trip because the operator’s cab is not accessible from other train cars.

The extra workers will be required until the railroad upgrades its existing signal and automatic control systems in a way that will deliver “adequate advance warning” of speed restrictions, federal officials said.

On Wednesday, three days after the Manhattan-bound Hudson line train tumbled off the rails in the Bronx, killing four people and injuring more than 70, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that an alerter system had been installed in the locomotive pushing the train, but not in the front cab, where the engineer was positioned, properly, at the time of the crash.

The train was in a “push-pull” configuration, common on Metro-North. In such arrangements, trains are pushed by a locomotive in one direction and pulled in the other.

The authority said a “push-pull” model kept the noise and exhaust of a locomotive as far as possible from the halls of Grand Central Terminal, though diesel trains typically switch to an electric mode as they approach. There is also generally no way for trains to turn around there, the authority said.

The alerter system sounds an alarm after 25 seconds of inactivity, and applies the brakes automatically if an engineer does not respond within 15 seconds.

It is not clear how long before the crash Mr. Rockefeller became inattentive, or whether the alerter system could have prevented the derailment or reduced its severity. It appears likely, though, that if Mr. Rockefeller had experienced a similar episode for an extended period on a northbound trip — when he would have been stationed in the locomotive — the siren might have sounded. In effect, trains configured and equipped like the one in the derailment employ the “alerter” system on only half of their runs.

While much of the safety discussion since the crash has focused on an expensive control system that remains years away from reality for the transportation authority, rail experts have said that a number of lower-cost remedies could have been put in place — and should be in the future — both inside the train and across the system governing it.

The derailment was the deadliest in New York City in more than two decades, prompting a federal investigation and leading local authorities and prosecutors to collect evidence for a possible criminal investigation into the actions of Mr. Rockefeller, who has been suspended without pay.

One potential safety improvement would be ensuring that the alerter systems were installed in every cab. The authority had said that new cars would include the systems in all cabs.

Other improvements could involve a modification of the existing signaling system in which coded electrical pulses sent through the rails are picked up by the trains and displayed as signals in the engineer’s cab.

The signals tell the engineer how fast the train can go, and if they are ignored, the system warns the engineer and if necessary can “dump” the air from the brakes, stopping the train.

In the meantime, things are returning to normal. Passenger service is back to regular strength and freight has resumed. Usually, a south-bound freight brings fruits, vegetables and stuff like that into New York. Finally got to run Thursday. It was 125 cars long. The longest freight train into New York City in recorded history. About 8 locomotives.

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.