GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) - A weekend fire that destroyed key Metro-North Railroad equipment in Greenwich caused delays on the New Haven line Monday and threatened to cause headaches for commuters for weeks to come.
The fire late Saturday destroyed equipment that allows the railroad to switch trains among four tracks.
Officials typically rely on three of the New Haven line’s four tracks during peak travel hours, but only two tracks were available westbound between Stamford and Port Chester, New York, for the morning rush hour. And only two tracks will be available eastbound Monday afternoon.
Limiting peak-direction trains to two tracks in the 9-mile stretch “creates a bottleneck that will result in congestion-related delays through that area,” Metro-North said. The fire also makes it impossible for the commuter railroad to operate trains around problems if any arise.
Officials say that will result in delays of about 10 minutes until the problem can be fixed. Restoring the ability to switch trains is a “highly complex process,” Metro-North said.
A manual control panel is expected to take weeks to install, the railroad said.
The cause of the fire is being investigated, but Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said arson or “malfeasance” is not suspected.
Metro-North sent text messages late Sunday night and again on Monday morning advising rush-hour commuters of the delays. The problem was “well-communicated,” said Jim Gildea of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council.
In September, a power outage in suburban New York City limited Metro-North service on the New Haven line for nearly two weeks. Thousands of passengers were forced to find alternate ways into New York, including using their cars, which jammed Connecticut’s highways.