STAMFORD -- Metro-North New Haven Line passengers will see a new schedule this week to accommodate track maintenance ordered by the railroad after the May 17 derailment in Bridgeport.
Arrival and departure times will change by up to 10 minutes to help minimize delays from a comprehensive track reconstruction and tie replacement project on 32 miles of track in the Bronx, N.Y.
The schedule will run through the fall and is expected to help bolster the railroad's slumping on-time performance caused by rotating track outages associated with the work. On-time performance has fallen from 98 percent to 91 percent since the project started in June, Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said.
"The delays aren't terrible, mostly between 6 to 10 minutes, but that's not up to par," Anders said. "But we're trying to get a more predictable timetable out there."
The railroad is using ground radar wave instruments to check the integrity of the rails and has found "subsurface ballast flaws" throughout the Bronx area system. That effort is part of beefed-up inspection and maintenance protocols put into place after federal investigators identified track flaws as a major factor in the May 17 derailment that injured 76 people.
The railroad expects to have the substructure of all 792 miles of Metro-North track on the New Haven, Harlem and Hudson lines radar-scanned to identify areas where repairs should be expedited.
Along with the track work, Metro-North is continuing work on an $11 million project to correct drainage problems in parts of the Bronx, where storm water runoff from surrounding streets pools up along the tracks, deteriorating the concrete railroad ties, Anders said.
Jim Cameron, a member of the new Connecticut Rail Commuter Council that represents commuters statewide, said Metro-North is acting correctly to rework the schedule to give riders a more accurate sense of actual arrival and departure times. Commuters also need to be cognizant that the summer is the optimum time for such repairs to take place when ridership drops off, he said.
"You need to be frank with commuters about the work being done and why," Cameron said. "If that means your 51 minute ride is more like 56 or 58 minutes, so be it. Repair we must, and this is the time of year when it impacts the least amount of people."