Harlem Line Riders May be Joined by CT Commuters

Riders of Metro North's Harlem Line may be joined temporarily by Connecticut customers who usually ride the Danbury Branch.

That line is having troubles with the signal system.

So folks who use that line—from around Danbury, Bethel, Redding—will have their tickets and passes honored on the Harlem Line, Metro North announced this week. 

Here's the railroad's complete statement:

MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced that effective immediately, customers who ride the Danbury Branch will be able to present their tickets for travel on Harlem Line trains while the railroad works to correct problems with the Danbury Branch’s signal system that are causing railroad crossing gates to operate incorrectly and delayed trains.

“We recognize that recurring delays on the Danbury Branch are causing difficulties for our commuters’ daily schedules,” said Metro-North Railroad President Joseph J. Giulietti. “We are working with the manufacturers of the newly installed signal system, Alstom and Siemens, to resolve the underlying issues affecting the signal system. In the interim, we are going to make this change, and any other change possible, to help our customers until we can restore reliability to train schedules on the branch.”

In November, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and Metro-North completed initial installation of a new signal system for the Danbury Branch, which includes a computerized train detection system in the tracks leading to railroad/roadway crossings. Train service on the branch was expanded as the result of the signal upgrade along with the related construction of several portions of parallel track, or sidings, allowing for the ability to operate more than one train along the corridor at a time.

Recently, Metro-North has identified a problem the newly installed computerized train detection system that controls the flashing lights and movable wooden arms at railroad crossings along the branch. The system is designed to be “fail-safe,” meaning that when it fails, it fails in a “safe” mode, with the grade crossing arms down and lights flashing, to prevent collisions between trains and vehicles or pedestrians. As a result, Metro-North has not experienced any failures of the crossing system to activate when required.

 However, the mechanism that controls the opening and closing of the crossings to motor vehicle traffic sometimes activates with no trains approaching. This is happening despite the fact that this system was comprehensively tested at each crossing prior to being activated along the right-of-way.

 Until Metro-North, Alstom, Siemens, and the Connecticut Department of Transportation find a solution, Metro-North trains are operating with a “Stop-and-Warn” requirement to ensure continued safe train movements. This procedure requires all trains to come to a complete stop before entering the affected crossing and to determine if the crossing protection is activated.

 When the crossing is deemed to be activated and providing protection, the train proceeds through the crossing at a restricted speed not exceeding 15 miles per hour.  This procedure is the safest way for us to operate a train, safeguarding customers and vehicular traffic. But it can cause train delays.

In the event a crossing lights and arms were not to activate, the conductor would climb down from the train and activate the railroad crossing manually so the train can proceed very slowly through the crossing.  The conductor then would climb back aboard and the train would proceed.

 The manufacturers have been on the scene and are working in their laboratories to quickly and safely resolve the issue.  Metro-North has also dispatched its own team to coordinate the effort with the designer of the signal system, Alstom, and the manufacturer of the computerized train detection device, Siemens, and to help expedite this fix.

Metro-North will keep customers and the media updated about our progress in resolving this issue as quickly and effectively as possible. The railroad recognizes the inconvenience that customers are experiencing and apologizes for the difficulties.


Patrick February 21, 2014 at 06:18 AM
How much worse is Metro North going to get? I'm sure that despite telling the Connecticut commuters to clog up the Harlem line they will do nothing to provide for the additional traffic. Why do they think it's ok to put untested equipment in place? Why do they think it's ok to troubleshoot and repair their systems any time of day (rush hour)? Lack of competence? The majority of the workforce would be fired for consistently failing to get the job right. Metro North continues to get it wrong and suffers no consequences.
Marie Davis-Williams February 21, 2014 at 06:51 AM
I commute daily on the Harlem Line. My morning train bypasses the station almost every morning. So commuters waiting for that train are combined with the next locale train. The train is overcrowded with people not just standing in the vestibules but up and down the aisles. I have been late so often this winter that I am forced to take a train that leaves 30 minutes earlier. When your commute is already close to two hours that extra 30 minutes is a hardship. This,by the way, is never announced on the TV or radio news and you won't find them acknowledging it on the MTA website. We have shared the Harlem line in the past with Danbury commuters due to track problems or accidents. MTA does not run extra trains they like overcrowding trains. I have called the MTA and complained and encourage every commuter on the Harlem who has been consistently inconvenienced to do the same.
PatchRat February 21, 2014 at 10:40 AM
They operate a virtual monopoly. When a business has a monopoly they need only provide the bare minimum. The sheeple can bleat all they want but what is their alternative? Why not get a political loudmoth attention seeker like Schumer or Abinanti to yip and yap in the media about the issue? They love anything that gets them in front of a camera and Abinanti is so desperate for attention he writes blogs on the Patch.
Patrick February 21, 2014 at 02:15 PM
LOL. Then they have the balls to put their monthly report with the 96% on time numbers out.


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