May 14--It will take a year and a half to replace the railroad signal equipment in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich that was damaged by a fire on Saturday, Metro-North said Tuesday.
The equipment, which dates to 1980, was due for replacement as part of an overall signal upgrade on the New Haven Line, but not for another three years. Replacement will be expedited to 18 months.
A manual workaround is being set up that should eliminate the delays for trains traveling between Stamford and Port Chester, N.Y., spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said.
It will take a week or two more to rig it up, she said.
"It's a very, very complicated system," Anders said.
Until the system is set up, there will be delays of 5 to 10 minutes, the railroad said. Although speeds should not be affected, the number of trains that can travel through that section of track is decreased, causing the delays.
The signals automatically control the moveable pieces of track that switch trains from one track to another during peak hours in order to run three of the four tracks in the direction that has the heaviest volume.
That cannot be done without the system.
Over the weekend, Metro-North workers physically positioned the switches to allow travel on two tracks in each direction, Anders said.
The manual system will require a worker to be stationed at the site at all times to work with a rail traffic controller to switch the tracks during rush hours, or if any problems arise that require trains to be moved to different tracks. Normally, these functions are done by the railroad's operations control center in Manhattan.
None of the interim measures will diminish safety, Anders said.
The fire has sparked another change for the railroad. The Metro-North train schedule mobile device app will be updated to add "unavailable" to "on time" and "delay" under the category of train status
The cause of the fire in Cos Cob is still unknown. The new signal house, which is a joint project of the Connecticut Department of Transportation and Metro-North, is about 30 percent designed, Anders said.
Staff writers Frank Juliano and Christine Hall contributed to this article.
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