East Coast transit services slowly returning following hurricane

Posted on August 29, 2011

[IMAGE]Ossining-running-rails-under-water-only-top-of-third-rail-visible-2.jpg[/IMAGE]Following closures of rail and bus services both in preparation and response to flooding from Hurricane Irene, several East Coast transportation agencies are slowly resuming services, however, there were several services still closed as of Monday.

UPDATE:Metro-North expanded its Post-Irene Sunday Schedule Service to include the Upper Hudson Line and the entire New Haven Main Line at 4 PM. Monday. Service continues on the Lower Harlem Line only.

Upper Harlem, New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury, Port Jervis and Pascack Valley Lines remain suspended.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) Metro-North Railroad could not operate regular service on any of its three lines — Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines - because there was still significant damage to many portions of the Metro-North system. Local streams and the Bronx River continue to overflow their banks and high winds continue to fell trees across the right-of-way.

However, Metro-North officials announced it will begin operating a Sunday schedule at 2 p.m. Monday on the Lower Hudson and Lower Harlem Lines and will continue to restore as much service as possible once it is safe to do so.

New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) also has announced that it will not operate Monday for the same reasons.

The most significant issues include:

  • The signal system is not fully functioning on any of the three lines.
  • Various sections of track along Hudson line have been damaged by mudslides and washouts. One mudslide in the area of Spuyten Duyvil has also undermined a home that is up a steep hill from the track. Another mudslide in the area of Scarborough has damaged 300-feet of third rail.
  • There is no signal or third-rail power on the Upper Harlem Line because of downed transmission poles and water-damaged substations.
  • The tracks through Tuckahoe station are flooded with up to 4 feet of water as the Bronx River continues to overflow its banks.
  • There is significant flooding at stations and parking lots. The underpass at Beacon Station is completely under water as is the North White Plains station parking lot.
  • Trees have fallen on the tracks on all three Metro-North lines.
  • West of Hudson, the Port Jervis Line has a dozen severe washouts and both the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines have numerous trees on the tracks.

Until the water recedes, the full extent of the damage cannot be determined. The National Weather Service has extended the flood warning for Metro-North's service territory until Monday night at midnight.  

Metro-North work crews will continue to inspect and repair the infrastructure throughout the night.

Metro-North's goal is to restore as much service as possible as soon as it is safe to do so. This will take some time as employees and equipment must be in place before any level of service can begin.

Grand Central Terminal was set to open Monday morning at its normal hour, 5:30 a.m.

[IMAGE]P8271304-2.jpg[/IMAGE]Meanwhile, MTA Long Island Rail Road was set to restore near-normal service for Monday morning's rush hour on six of its branches. The A.M. rush service is being restored on four of the largest branches — Babylon, Huntington, Ronkonkoma and Port Washington as well as on the Hempstead and West Hempstead branches.

Customers are advised to expect some cancelations and some trains operating with fewer than normal complement of cars.

Service remains suspended on the Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Long Beach and Far Rockaway branches. Service also remains suspended east of Babylon on the Montauk Branch and east of Ronkonkoma.

Hundreds of LIRR employees are continuing to work around-the-clock to clear the tracks and restore signals and/or power on the branches or portion of branches where service remains suspended.

In New York City, the MTA began restoring limited bus services Sunday afternoon in Manhattan and the Bronx, followed by Queens and Brooklyn. Conditions in Staten Island continued to prevent restoration of services

"Conditions vary greatly across our system, but we're working hard to assess storm damage and will begin to restore service wherever we can do it safely, starting with limited bus service this afternoon," said MTA Chairman/CEO Jay H. Walder. "The actions we took to protect the system have helped limit damage, but there were still storm impacts across our system and we will keep customers informed as we work to restore service across our 5,000 mile territory. I can't say enough about the hard work of our employees first in evacuating New Yorkers and now in bringing service back."

Full restoration of service is a lengthy process, as damage is assessed and repaired, equipment and personnel are positioned, and safety is ensured, according to MTA.

NJ Transit announced rail service will remain suspended until further notice as a result of residual impacts of Hurricane Irene, except for the Atlantic City Rail Line.

NJ Transit was set to operate bus and light rail service on a modified schedule on Monday.

Crews continued working around the clock today to assess storm damage and make necessary repairs. As NJ Transit redeployed assets in an effort to restore service, customers are being advised of a number of service adjustments that will help mitigate the stress on the system.

"The transportation system throughout the state has been severely stressed. Our goal is to resume service as quickly and safely as possible, however, customers should not expect a normal weekday tomorrow for transit services as crews continue to assess damage around the state —particularly on the railroad," said NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein. "Most importantly, thanks to Governor Christie's call to suspend service before Irene reached New Jersey, we were able to ensure the safety of customers and employees. We also were able to move locomotives, train cars, buses and other equipment to places where they could be protected as much as possible from the elements, and thus be ready to serve our customers again quickly and efficiently once the effects of the storm have fully passed. And, the suspension allowed us to divert numerous buses and vans to Atlantic County and other areas where these vehicles provided crucial evacuation services."

To give customers additional travel options, NJ Transit will offer systemwide cross-honoring, enabling customers to use their ticket or pass on an alternate travel mode — rail, bus or light rail. For example, customers who normally take the train from Rutherford to New York Penn Station may use their rail pass on the bus from Rutherford to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Similarly, customers who normally take the bus between Atlantic City and Lindenwold may use the Atlantic City Rail Line. In addition, PATH trains and private carrier buses will cross honor NJ Transit tickets and passes.

Finally in Maryland, the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) said it would have all modes operational for the Monday morning commute, however, MARC Train Penn Line customers and light rail passengers were set to face some delays.

Amtrak, which operates the Penn Line for MTA, suffered extensive damage as a result of Hurricane Irene. To facilitate the necessary repairs the Penn Line will operate an S or limited service schedule Monday.


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