Metro-North Continues Repairs After Hurricane Sandy

On October 29-30, Hurricane Sandy swept ashore and left a mess in her wake. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of workers in every department, Metro-North Railroad was able to resume service within 48 hours after the storm devastated the region, despite many obstacles and difficult conditions.

The Hudson River washed over the tracks in many locations, flooding stations and parking lots. When the tide receded, it washed away the land under the tracks in some places and left debris in others. The wind snapped dozens and dozens of trees which blocked tracks systemwide, crushed third rail that powers trains on the Hudson and Harlem lines and tore down catenary wires on the New Haven Line. Salt water destroyed many electronic components of the signal system, which also affected the public address systems at many stations. Power outages left stations in the dark. The damage was extensive and widespread.

Soon after the wind stopped, Metro-North Railroad employees began the cleanup.

On Wednesday, October 31, limited service was restored on the Harlem Line between North White Plains and Grand Central Terminal, with trains running hourly. The Harlem Line, which runs up the center of Westchester County, was the least damaged line. The New Haven Line runs along the Long Island Sound and the Hudson Line, runs at water level along the Hudson River. Both had extensive damage.

The next day, on Thursday, November 1, the Harlem Line was back to a near normal schedule between Mount Kisco and Grand Central Terminal. Normal service also resumed on the New Haven Line between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal. In the afternoon, Harlem Line service was extended north from Mount Kisco to Southeast Station, operating on a limited schedule for the remainder of the day.

On Friday, Hudson Line service was resumed between Grand Central and Croton-Harmon, the mid-point of the line. And on the New Haven Line, normal service was restored all the way to New Haven.

On Saturday, the Hudson Line was restored to its full extent, to Poughkeepsie.

By Monday, service was restored to the Waterbury and Danbury branches of the New Haven Line and the Harlem Line also was restored to its full extent with regular service restored to Wassaic.

This incremental restoration was possible because of the around-the-clock efforts of track workers, linemen, signal maintainers, power department specialists in third rail and catenary wire. Skilled electricians cleaned out water-damaged substations, transformers and other components necessary to run the trains. Mechanics worked to repair the several trains that did suffer water damage. Generators were installed at the many stations that lost power. Customer service representatives kept customers informed of the progress.

The speedy resumption of train service also was made possible by the extensive preparations undertaken before the storm arrived - at shops, facilities and stations. Train equipment was moved to higher ground and employees were called in because after the storm, it was likely that many roads would be closed because of downed trees and power lines. In this way, a small army was ready to roll as soon as it was safe to do so.

But much work remains to be done. The New Canaan Branch of the New Haven Line remains out of service. Buses continue to take customers to Stamford, where they can get train service to New York or New Haven. This 8-mile-long branch, which serves about 2,500 people a day, suffered devastating damage to its catenary system. Metro-North forces will attack this job starting today and will work all weekend in an effort to restore service by Monday.

West-of-Hudson, Metro-North's two lines, the Port Jervis and the Pascack Valley, are operated by NJTRANSIT, which suffered extensive damage systemwide. Pascack Valley Line customers are being served by bus service to Tarrytown, where customers can get a Hudson Line train to Grand Central. Port Jervis Line customers have four peak trains in each direction to Hoboken. This is supplemented in the off-peak periods by bus service to either Beacon or Tarrytown.