Hearing on Metro-North Outage

Oct 29, 2013

On Monday, a congressional field hearing was held in Bridgeport to discuss ways to improve Metro-North railroad service after a power failure impacted thousands of commuters last month. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal organized the hearing. He said inadequate management and insufficient funding in infrastructure led to the the breakdown in service September 25.

Blumenthal said, "The failure to plan for this kind of contingency and provide backup sources of power was a failing that we cannot permit to be repeated." A feeder cable in Mt. Vernon, NY failed and led to the 12-day disruption. The top officials at Metro-North Railroad and ConEdison testified at the hearing. Both said they're working together to prevent future power problems.

But MTA Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut said other challenges remain. "The reality is the power supply is only one area of the New Haven line infrastructure that requires attention," he said. "For example, there are four removable bridges in Connecticut that are all over a century old, and need replacement. They must be replaced in the coming years. If not, we could be facing a disruption just as significant as the one we experienced for a far longer period of time."

Permut said New York state and Connecticut have invested billions in rail infrastructure, but federal investments in mass transit and Amtrak have fallen short in the last decade. Meanwhile, ConEdison President Craig Ivey said a forensic analysis to determine the exact cause behind an electric feeder cable failing should be completed by early November. He also said ConEdision doesn't plan on reimbursing Metro-North for the outage.

Permut said the 12-day stoppage and refunds cost the railroad between $8 and $12 million. This comment led Governor Dannel Malloy to send a letter to the MTA asking it to pursue legal action against Con-Edison. In a statement, Malloy said, "The negligence that underlies the outage must be rectified by ConEdison."