Monday train commute expected to be difficult at best

MTA Metro-North Railroad has begun removing rail cars from the site of Friday’s derailment and subsequent sideswipe in Bridgeport.

Meanwhile, plans are being made for what sounds at best a difficult commute Monday, May 20.

“Commuters need to be prepared for a long commute on Monday,” Fairfield Police said in a Code RED message Sunday. “Please make alternate plans and please consider staying home if possible. I-95 is expected to be overloaded. Metro North may have some buses available but the only thing they have said so far is that they will not have enough to handle the 20,000 passengers that travel this section of the line.”

“Metro North has stated they do not have the buses to handle 20,000 passengers that commute on this section of the line,” Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau tweeted Sunday.

Officials are still waiting to see if the Fairfield Metro and downtown stations, plus Southport, all west of the crash scene, will have power – and possibly rail service – restored.

“We are making plans for a busy and chaotic Monday commute at our three train stations,” according to the Fairfield Code RED message. “Everyone attempting to use the rail lines will need to be patient as we work through these difficulties. As soon as we hear from Metro North, we can finalize our local plans.”

Plans will be posted as they become available.

As of about 9 p.m. Saturday, the National Transportation Safety Board authorized removal of the rail cars from the site, allowing the investigative and cleanup process to proceed, according to Metro-North. As of 8 a.m. Sunday, 13 cars had been removed and the remaining three were expected to be removed by early Sunday afternoon.

“Once the site is cleared, crews will begin the longer and extremely difficult process of restoring the track infrastructure that was damaged by the derailment and collision,” according to a statement from the railroad.

“Our crews will essentially be rebuilding 2,000 feet of damaged track, and overhead wires and signal system,” said Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut. “This amounts to the wholesale reconstruction of a two-track electrified railroad. It will take multiple days of around-the-clock work to do that, and then to inspect, test and requalify the newly rebuilt infrastructure. Unfortunately, service disruptions on this section of the New Haven Line are expected to continue well into the coming week.”

The MTA and Connecticut DOT plan to provide more information later on Sunday detailing the plan for service on Monday. Plans to be announced later today will include the use of buses along some sections of the railroad.

Each day, approximately 30,000 Metro-North customers use the stations where service has been curtailed. About 125,000 use the New Haven Line as a whole, and its three branches.