MTA Chief Apologizes for Latest Metro-North Service Disruption

By Ben Fractenberg on January 24, 2014 2:05pm 

 Metro-North service was disrupted for two hours Thursday night after workers acciently cut off signal system power. 
Metro-North service was disrupted for two hours Thursday night after workers acciently cut off signal system power. 
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Flickr/MTA Photos

MIDTOWN — Metro-North is sorry — again.

MTA chairman Thomas Prendergast apologized Friday for a two-hour service disruptions that backed up service on all their lines during a frigid Thursday night, blaming it on workers who were trying to repair a power unit.

“Last night’s failure was unacceptable, pure and simple,” Prendergast said. “The project should have been analyzed for risks and redundancy before it began, and it should not have been performed when thousands of customers were trying to get home in cold weather.”

The delays started at 7:45 p.m. when a workers took one of two main power supply units was taken out of service for repairs and didn't realize a wire was disconnected from the other unit, destabilizing the signal system power supply for more than an hour, according to Metro-North.

The latest disruption comes after the agency had a problem-plagued 2013, including the Hudson Line derailment that killed four people, New Haven line service suspension caused by an electric cable failure and two Metro-North trains colliding in Connecticut.

Prendergast said customers "deserve better."

He added that the agency was bringing in a third party to investigate.

"I have directed Metro-North to bring in an independent consultant to examine how and why these mistakes were made, and to recommend any necessary changes to operating procedures to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”

More than 50 trains were halted during the outage, according to Metro-North. Trains slowly traveled to the closest station where they were held until maintainers could manually ensure all the switches were lined up corrected, the agency added.

Trains did not lose power during the delay and began moving again by 9:30 p.m., with full control over the signal system happening by 10:30 p.m., according to Metro-North.

Service returned to normal in time for the Friday morning commute.

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