U.S. Senators seek probe of NY-Connecticut commuter line failure

Sept 29 Sun Sep 29, 2013 2:24pm EDT

Sept 29 (Reuters) - Two U.S. senators called on Sunday for federal and state investigations into a power failure on the Metro-North Railroad, which has been causing delays for tens of thousands of commuters into New York City.

Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, both Democrats, have written to the U.S. Department of Energy and the New York State Public Service Commission asking that they help restore power and examine what went wrong.

The outage on the railroad's busy route between New Haven, Connecticut, and New York City began on Wednesday morning when a high-powered electric cable failed near Harrison, a town about 22 miles north of New York City. The outage occurred while crews were working to replace an alternate power line.

Some 125,000 commuters a day, including many on Wall Street, have faced long delays as crews struggle to restore full service. The railroad line runs through hedge-fund capital Greenwich, Connecticut, and nearby Stamford, where such banks as UBS AG and the Royal Bank of Scotland maintain trading floors.

"To grow jobs and strengthen our economy, safe and reliable rail service must be a top priority, and it is simply intolerable for a single cable failure to imperil that progress," Blumenthal said in a statement.

Consolidated Edison Inc. crews have been looking for ways to power the rail line while repairs are made. On Sunday afternoon, crews were testing temporary feeders and transformers intended to take power off the distribution system to power the tracks, said utility spokesman Allan Drury.

A reduced schedule was in effect this weekend, according to the railroad, which has said it could take weeks to fully repair the line.

The power outage is the second major disruption this year to service on the railroad's New Haven line. In May, two passenger trains collided after one derailed near Bridgeport, Connecticut, injuring dozens of people and disrupting service for days.

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