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Officials Call On Metro-North To Issue Refunds To New Haven Line Commuters

Con Edison crews on Friday work to partially restore power to the 8-mile stretch of Metro-North's New Haven Line that's been without electricity since Wednesday.
Con Edison crews on Friday work to partially restore power to the 8-mile stretch of Metro-North's New Haven Line that's been without electricity since Wednesday. Photo Credit: Con Edison Twitter

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – As limited service continues on Metro-North’s New Haven Line due to Wednesday’s power failure in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Gov. Dannel Malloy again called upon the railroad to reimburse monthly rail pass ticket holders for the service disruptions.

“I have told Metro-North and the MTA, in no uncertain terms, that I expect them to produce a plan to compensate Connecticut riders for the lack of service,” Malloy said Friday in Hartford during an unrelated press conference. “As you know, I’m more than willing to put the full power of the state of Connecticut behind that demand.”

An 8-mile stretch of the line has been without electricity since early Wednesday morning after a feeder cable powering that section of the railway failed. Due to the outage, regular service between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal has been suspended, causing a significant reduction in trains. Limited service to Grand Central is currently being provided by a fleet of diesel-fueled trains.

A total of 24 diesel trains are being used, Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said Friday.

“What we established is a service plan that can carry about one-third of regular New Haven Line ridership and provides as much service as possible,” Metro-North says on its website. “We realize that this is not nearly enough. 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 8-mile section of the railroad.”

Crews from Con Edison—the company that powers the New York portion of the line—are working to restore partial power the downed system using mobile transformers. Partial power restoration may be achieved as early as Saturday, Malloy announced Thursday.

Representatives from Con Edison could not be reached Friday to comment on progress. However, the company announced via its Twitter page that crews are “working around the clock” and that new equipment would be tested over the weekend in an effort to provide an alternative power source.

Anders also could not comment as to how much progress Con Ed has made toward partially powering the line. She also said it’s too early to tell whether train service will be increased by Monday.

“We’ll be monitoring progress all weekend long, and if we can add service, we will let everyone know on Sunday,” she said.

State Rep. Gail Lavielle, who represents Norwalk, Westport and Wilton in the 143rd District, announced Friday that she, too, hopes commuters will be reimbursed after the service problems.

“They aren’t using their tickets, and it’s not fair for them to lose the money they spent,” Lavielle said about riders who have purchased monthly rail passes.

Lavielle, who this year introduced legislation requiring validity extension of commuter rail tickets after service outages, also said a policy for such an instance is urgently needed.

“These tickets cost hundreds of dollars,” she said. “Commuters put up with enough. They deserve reassurance that they won’t lose their money if rail service is disrupted for any length of time. However it’s done, they need a policy to protect them now.”

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