New Haven Line trains continued to fall short of on-time goals in May under a new schedule that Metro-North had hoped would result in shorter travel times and more predictable commutes after a terrible year for Connecticut riders. Instead, on-time performance dropped.
In May, 79 percent of New Haven Line trains arrived on time under a new schedule put in force on May 11, 13 percent below the annual on-time goal of the New Haven Line for 2014. In April, 90 percent of New Haven Line trains arrived on time in the same 6 a.m.-to-10 a.m. period on weekdays before the schedule's introduction.
The railroad is planning to introduce newly tweaked schedule beginning Saturday, which involves juggling departure times and other variables on several New Haven Line trains to both make trains reach Grand Central Terminal on time and make more seats available to commuters.
The long-promised new timetable that went into effect in May was supposed to speed up commutes for 83 percent of riders on the New Haven Line after nearly a yearlong drop-off in on-time performance that affected Connecticut riders more heavily than their Hudson and Harlem line counterparts.
The 6:20 a.m. semi-express train from New Haven to Grand Central will add stops at Old Greenwich, Riverside and Cos Cob, and will no longer stop at Port Chester and Rye stations.
The 6:55 a.m. semi-express from Stamford will operate five minutes earlier, departing at 6:50 a.m.
A 7:33 a.m. semi-express train from Greenwich will be added, and stop in Port Chester and Rye before running express to Harlem/125th Street and Grand Central.
The 6:35 p.m. train from Grand Central Terminal to New Haven will now depart four minutes earlier, departing at 6:31 p.m.
On the Danbury branch, weekday off-peak train service will resume.
During a disastrous 2013 and into the new year, the New Haven Line's on-time performance became bogged down by speed restrictions imposed by the Federal Railroad Administration after a deadly derailment in the Bronx, N.Y., in December. The lower speeds are set on five moveable bridges and sharply curved sections of track. Other safety-related track work and maintenance required following a derailment in Bridgeport in May 2013 also slowed the trains.
The effect of individual incidents resulted in several days when on-time performance during rush hour fell below 50 percent, Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said. That included a May 29 Norwalk River bridge incident and a third-rail fire in the Bronx on May 1.
Our customers deserve reliability and predictability," Anders said. "The July 7 schedule change represents our commitment to continue to refine the schedules on the NHL to continuously improve performance."
Last week, Giulietti told members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board that among other problems, three major incidents on the New Haven Line in the past month have made it hard to evaluate the May schedule change's effectiveness. On May 10 ,a fire destroyed a signal house in Cos Cob section of Greenwich, adding five to 10 minutes to trips through that area for more than two weeks. Later that day, the Devon moveable bridge in Milford got stuck, and two weeks later on May 29, the Norwalk River rail bridge became stuck, delaying more than 58 trains that morning alone.
"Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of the schedule," Giulietti said. "Nonetheless, Metro-North has been monitoring its service and as a result, a handful of changes on morning rush hour trains on the Harlem and New Haven line have been identified and are being implemented in phases."Read Full Article
Under the July 7 changes, several trains on the New Haven Line will leave later or earlier to help ease congestion between the Woodlawn station and Grand Central Terminal:
John Hartwell, vice chairman of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council, said even with mitigating circumstances such as the fire and bridge breakdowns, the railroad has to make the necessary adjustments to improve the reliability of on-time performance.
"The question is, `Can they start to run the trains on time?' " Hartwell said. "What's got to happen is they have to get back to reliability, which they've been talking about, and they haven't gotten there yet."