A fire that destroyed an important remote switching control house near Cos Cob on Saturday morning may result in 5-10 minute delays for New Haven Line customers, as the railroad is only able to use two of four tracks in the peak direction through a nine-mile stretch. The fire has also eliminated the ability of the railroad to operate trains around problems if any arise in this area.
The switching control house at Cos Cob allows trains to switch between all four tracks. Because of the loss of the control center, Metro-North trains are limited to two tracks in the westbound direction and two tracks in the eastbound direction between Port Chester, N.Y., and Stamford, Conn.
During peak periods, trains normally use three of the New Haven Line’s four tracks to travel in the peak direction. Limiting peak-direction trains to two tracks in a nine-mile stretch creates a bottleneck that will result in congestion-related delays through that area.
The highly complex process to restore limited switching capability at Cos Cob is ongoing, and a manual control panel is expected to take weeks to implement. Many extra operations employees have been called in to work with all available resources to reduce customer impacts.
Under the immediate solution to the loss of the switching center, trains can continue to operate safely through this area. There is no loss to safety protections as a result of the fire.
Metro-North will have extra customer service personnel at Stamford, New Haven-Union Station and New Rochelle for the first weekday of a new timetable. Rescue switching locomotives will be on standby to assist should any train does become disabled.
The schedule to replace the damaged control house is being developed. The cause of the fire is under investigation.