| Sept 26
Sept 26 Hedge fund managers and corporate types
used to Wall Street's lightning pace, as well as ordinary
Connecticut citizens, faced weeks of delays as a power outage on
the Metro North railway brought their commutes to a crawl for a
second day on Thursday.
Utility crews struggled to restore electricity to a rail
line connecting New Haven and Stamford, Connecticut, to New York
City, while the commuter railroad rolled out diesel locomotives
to keep business from grinding to a standstill.
Residents of a wealthy section of the Northeast state, which
includes hedge-fund capital Greenwich, were warned it could be
weeks before service returns to normal, with the railroad down
to one-third of its normal capacity.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said on Thursday he was
"frustrated" with the progress and encouraged residents to work
from home if possible. He ordered a halt to all highway work on
major roads into New York, to ease the flow of traffic from
commuters who opted to drive to work.
Amtrak said its high-speed Acela service would not run
between New York and Boston through Sunday.
The rail outage began on Wednesday morning when a
high-powered electric cable serving a commuter rail line with an
average daily volume of 125,000 riders failed at the same time
that crews were working on the planned replacement of an
alternate power line.
It affected not just commuters headed into New York but the
many people who work in cities including Stamford, where banks
including UBS AG and the Royal Bank of Scotland
maintain trading floors.
"I assume it's going to take me at least an extra hour to
get home," said one Wall Street executive who opted to stay in
Manhattan with a friend on Wednesday night rather than travel
back to his home in Pound Ridge, New York, near the Connecticut
border about 50 miles (80 km) away.
The executive, who said he was not authorized to talk to the
media, said he was bracing for extended commutes over the next
few weeks: "I already have heard that traffic is much worse."
The power outage that prompted the rail delays occurred in
Mount Vernon, New York, when a 138 kilovolt feeder cable failed.
Consolidated Edison Inc crews are looking for alternative
ways to power the rail line while the failed cable and the
alternate that was being repaired are restored.
"We're working very closely with Metro North and looking at
establishing alternative sources of power for the New Haven
line," said D. Joy Faber, a Con Ed spokeswoman. "Our crews are
working diligently around the clock ... but this type of work,
we're looking at a couple of weeks here."
Along the affected line, commuters' tempers were fraying.
Commuter Tim Francone gave up and headed to his car.
"I hate doing it," he said. "I know how long I will be on
the road at this time, but I can't wait any longer."
Cynthia Jacobs had given up waiting for a train at the
Milford station, where she normally begins her daily commute and
instead drove west to Stratford.
"They told me the schedules were different and that I would
get a train more quickly here," she said. "But I have no idea
how long it will be."
One employee of a Greenwich-based hedge fund said he
abandoned plans to drive to New York on Wednesday after it took
him 45 minutes to drive the first 5 miles.
Owen Gutfreund, an associate professor at New York's Hunter
College who specializes in transportation policy, said the
projected length of the outage illustrates the weakness of the
United States' electrical grid, rather than problems in the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest
transportation network in North America.
"This could be an indicator of our underinvestment in
maintenance and keeping up to date our infrastructure overall,"
Gutfreund said. "It points out that the MTA is reliant on an
electrical infrastructure that is crumbling."
Connecticut's governor, Malloy, called on residents to show
"I am frustrated at this situation and continue to press the
folks at Con Ed and Metro North to fix it as quickly as
possible," he said on Thursday. "But until the problems are
alleviated, we need to take whatever steps we can to help
mitigate congestion on roadways."
The outage comes four months after two Metro North trains
collided on the same line during a Friday evening rush hour,
injuring more than 70 people.