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Human error led to Metro North total shut down

Metro-North officials say Harlem, Hudson and New Haven line trains traveling between New York and Connecticut are now operating on or close to schedule after being suspended Thursday night due to signal problems.

The Danbury branch line took significantly longer to restore than the main lines and other branch lines.
4th District Congressman Jim Himes says Metro North President Howard Permut told him the cause was electrical work next to a control center in GCT which shut down the computer and cut power to signals on all lines.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said Friday that the cause of the two-hour service disruption has been traced to human error during an electrical repair project.  One of two main power supply units was taken out of service for replacement. Technicians performing the work did not realize that a wire was disconnected on the other main power supply unit. This destabilized the power supply system for more than an hour until a backup supply could be connected.


“Last night’s failure was unacceptable, pure and simple,” Prendergast said. “The project should have been analyzed for risks and redundancy before it began, and it should not have been performed when thousands of customers were trying to get home in cold weather.”


“Metro-North customers deserve better, and I extend my sincere apology to all of them,” Prendergast said. “I have directed Metro-North to bring in an independent consultant to examine how and why these mistakes were made, and to recommend any necessary changes to operating procedures to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”


More than 50 trains were forced to halt for safety reasons when the signal system went dark. Rail traffic controllers instructed engineers to slowly bring their trains to the closest station. Trains were not allowed to proceed through switches until signal maintainers could respond and manually ensure the switches were lined up correctly, which delayed some trains further.


All trains had light, heat and power during the disruption. Customers were able to get off trains when they reached a station.


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Markley van Camp Robbins

Local Headlines