HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Broken electrical equipment interrupted rush-hour rail commutes in and out of New York City and snarled rail lines as far south as Washington on Wednesday, and the problem could take weeks to repair, a utility said as it sought a power alternative for the railroad.
The delays began when a high-voltage feeder cable failed at about 5:20 a.m. in Mount Vernon, N.Y., a suburb north of New York City. Another feeder was also out for scheduled repairs for equipment upgrades, said Con Edison, the utility serving the New York City area. The broken circuit could take two to three weeks to repair, the utility said.
On Wednesday afternoon, commuter railroad Metro-North said it would provide extremely limited service on hourly trains that would make all local stops and accommodate just 10 percent of its regular ridership on the line between New York City's Grand Central Terminal and New Haven, Conn. Riders were urged to expect crowded stations and to find alternative service.
Metro-North said it was developing a Thursday morning train and bus shuttle schedule for the tens of thousands of people in the densely populated suburbs north of New York City and into Connecticut who use the commuter railroad, the nation's second-largest.
Spokeswoman Marjorie Anders advised commuters to find another way into and out of New York.
"It will be crowded. It will be slow. Seek alternate means," she said in an email.
The delays had a ripple effect. Interstate 95 saw significant traffic congestion on Wednesday morning in Connecticut, where it runs near the railroad. Traffic eased somewhat by early afternoon — from 20-mile backups to traffic jams a few miles long, the Connecticut Department of Transportation reported.
And Amtrak, which runs along the same Metro-North corridor, advised passengers that service in the Northeast was operating with "significant delays." Acela Express service was suspended between New York and Boston and service between New York and Washington was delayed.
If no alternative source of power is found, that could mean weeks of longer, more congested commutes.
"Alternative transportation is going to be the name of the game for a while," Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.
Irate passengers vented online and the head of a commuter advisory group complained that rail service was disrupted frequently over the summer for needed track work in New York. Wednesday's disruption, though not Metro-North's fault, adds to frustration among commuters, said Jim Cameron, a commuter advocate.
"It means commuters must have a plan B and a plan C," he said.
Associated Press writer Susan Haigh in Mashantucket, Conn., contributed to this report.