Partial electric service may return to Metro-North's New Haven Line next week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday at a news conference in New York's Grand Central Terminal.
Malloy had emerged from an apparently heated meeting with Metro-North and Con Edison officials at which he demanded that full service be restored as quickly as possible. "Quite frankly I was pushing them pretty hard," he said of Con Ed officials.
Electric power was lost between Stamford and Grand Central on Wednesday morning because a 138,000-volt feeder cable running from Mount Vernon to Harrison, N.Y., failed.
The plan to restore partial service involves "three transformers that are being brought in that would feed the system," Malloy said. However, they would provide only 13,000 kilowatts.
"I have 125,000 people whose lives are being disrupted because of this failure," the governor said.
Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said 24 diesel locomotives were running Thursday, as the railroad was able to take some from the Hudson Line, which runs north to Poughkeepsie. While "cobbled together," she said, "we did the best we could. ... We spread the pain around."
Electric train service was not affected north of Stamford.
Chris Olert, a Con Ed spokeswoman, had said a second feeder was taken out of service two weeks ago as a part of upgrade work on the New Haven Line. It was in the same area as the failed cable. Malloy said Con Ed wasn't sure whether relying on a single feeder played a role in the failure but he believed there was a strong chance "that reliance on a single circuit did contribute" to the feeder failing.
"This has to be done up and down the system," Malloy said of the upgrade work. "A reoccurrence of this anywhere in the future is totally unacceptable."
He also said that since the problem was not caused by weather but by a system failure, "They need to speak to a refund policy with regard to this. ... There appears to be little plan for this type of catastrophic failure."
He also said that, if train travel isn't brought back to normal soon, "we'll look at legal action."
Anders described the work being done: "We're in the process of replacing a 37-year-old substation at Mount Vernon and we are replacing it with a more modern, more reliable and more powerful substation to meet the growing needs of the New Haven Line. It's a $50 million infrastructure investment."
She said Con Ed was about halfway through the monthlong job. Before a feeder was taken out of service, "extensive tests" were done to be sure the single feeder was adequate, Anders said. "Con Ed engineers and Metro-North electricians all found the tests to be satisfactory."
As to whether the second feeder being de-energized contributed to the other's failure, she said a Con Ed official "was saying they don't know that to be true."
Now they hope to have the second feeder back in service by Oct. 7, rather than the planned date of Oct. 13; "they're also working to repair the one that was fried"; and the three transformers being brought in will "pull power from the neighborhood grid and step it up to super-high power, which is what we require to run our trains."
Anders didn't know how many of the "dozens" of substations along the New Haven Line will be rebuilt, but in his press conference Malloy said "this transformation and this upgrade is going to be ongoing in New York and Connecticut."
Malloy said that "anyone who can stay away from New York City tomorrow would probably be well-advised." In addition to Metro-North's problems, the city is crowded with diplomats and others from around the world attending the U.N. General Assembly and the Clinton Global Initiative, among other events.
Parts of Interstate 95 turned into a virtual parking lot Thursday as tens of thousands of Metro-North Railroad commuters scrambled for alternative routes between the densely populated suburbs and New York City. In an effort to help with congestion and keep traffic moving, Malloy instructed the state Department of Transportation Thursday to halt all roadwork in lower Fairfield County, specifically on Interstate 95, the Merritt Parkway, routes 1, 7 and 123 and other busier secondary roads, until further notice.