- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - Thousands of rail passengers will have to deal with another day of slow commutes as crews repair elevated train tracks in New York City that were damaged by a fire.

Metro-North said it would operate on an “enhanced Saturday schedule” Thursday, providing customers with additional trains during peak travel times. The railroad said it hoped to restore regular service by Friday.

The blaze broke out Tuesday night at a garden center underneath Metro-North tracks in Manhattan’s East Harlem section, north of Grand Central Terminal, halting train service for hours and damaging a center column beneath a viaduct holding the elevated tracks. Crews were installing six temporary steel columns until permanent repairs could be made.

“Crews have made significant progress on repairs to the railroad’s Park Avenue Viaduct that was damaged by Tuesday’s four-alarm fire beneath the structure, Metro-North said in a statement.

On Wednesday, fire marshals ruled the inferno an accident, saying it was caused by fuel that was spilled on a hot generator while it was being refilled.

John Georgescu, who lives in White Plains, said he had been delayed for hours Wednesday morning after taking a subway and a taxi to get home Tuesday night.

But as he waited to board a train at Grand Central Terminal Wednesday evening, Georgescu said the evening rush could pass for a regular day.

“It actually doesn’t seem so bad tonight,” he remarked as fellow commuters rushed by to catch trains heading north of the city. “You just have to deal with it. There isn’t much you can do about it.”

Metro-North reported 60- to 80-minute delays out of Grand Central heading into the Wednesday evening rush hour.

“Customers should continue to expect delays and crowded conditions on Thursday and, if at all possible, are encouraged to work from home or find alternate travel plans,” Metro-North said.

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