Commuters traveling between Connecticut and New York are facing a transportation nightmare after a feeder cable serving the Metro-North New Haven Line failed Wednesday morning, halting service for an hour and a half.
Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a news conference on Wednesday afternoon that repairs could take "as long as three weeks or more."
In the meantime, limited service will be offered via diesel train to about 30 percent of the New Haven Line's daily ridership.
The diesel service will run from Stamford to Harlem 125th Street and Grand Central Station at the rate of one train per hour in each direction, according to Malloy.
He encouraged commuters to stay home, stay in New York, carpool or take the Harlem Line whenever possible.
New Haven Line tickets will be honored on the Harlem Line during this period of "extremely limited service," Malloy said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Yankees fans who planned to ride Metro-North trains to the stadium tonight also needed to make other arrangements.
New Haven Line Direct Service to/from Yankees Stadium for the Yankees game tonight is canceled.
— Metro-North Railroad (@MetroNorth) September 25, 2013
Amtrak's Acela service from Boston to New York is also canceled through Thursday.
Amtrak released the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:
"Due to the ongoing commerical power problem in the New York area affecting Metro-North Railroad territory, Amtrak Acela Express service will not operate on Thursday, Sept. 26 between New York and Boston. However, Amtrak Northeast Regional service will operate under diesel power through the affected area."
Officials said it's not clear how long it will take to repair the system, but Malloy told commuters to expect "a substantial disruption for a substantial period of time."
He said he is coordinating with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make repairs and accomodations.
The problem started when a feeder cable failed just before 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. A second cable servicing the line hsa been undergoing routine maintenance at the Mount Vernon station, so now both cables are out of commission.
Maintenance work has been ongoing for a couple months and is not related to today's problem, Malloy said, adding that one line "was expected to be sufficient" to support regular Metro-North service.
Repairs on the second cable are scheduled to be finished by Oct. 14, but Malloy said officials are working to accelerate the timeline. This would ideally have the cable back in service by Oct. 7.
But the governor cautioned commuters to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
"Plan on long-term lack of service or being underserved," he said.
He said the extent of the problem is still unknown because the line is super-heated and must be cooled with liquid nitrogen before crews can take a closer look.
Malloy said tree-cutting on Interstate 95 will likely be halted to keep traffic from jamming up as more commuters take to the roads.
He also said he sympathized with commuters.
"Needless to say, I am frustrated," he said on Wednesday. "An outage of three weeks or more is completely unacceptable."
The MTA cautioned that service would be extremely slow and the trains will be crowded.
In an effort to get to work, many commuters are hopping in their cars and taking I-95 into the city, which is causing traffic backups.
Amtrak's Acela service was also disrupted between New York's Penn station and New Haven, according to Tweets from Amtrak Northeast.
Due to power system problems, ACELA Service disrupted between New York Penn, NY & New Haven, CT - Regional Service operating with delays
— Amtrak Northeast (@AmtrakNEC) September 25, 2013
Regional service is operating with delays.