Danbury Branch Starts Off-Peak Bus Service, Honors Tickets On Harlem Line

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The Danbury branch of Metro-North will run bus service off peak. Tickets will be honored on the Harlem Line in New York.
The Danbury branch of Metro-North will run bus service off peak. Tickets will be honored on the Harlem Line in New York. Photo Credit: File

DANBURY, Conn. -- Buses will run on off-peak hours and weekends on the Danbury Branch while problems with the signals along the Metro-North commuter rail line are repaired, the Connecticut Department of Transportation announced Tuesday. 

Peak-hour trains will continue to operate; buses will be used during off-peak and weekend hours on the Danbury Branch.

A detailed interim service plan will be announced Wednesday with service changes to begin Saturday, March 1, DOT said.

In recent weeks, the Danbury branch has experienced problems with the new technology implemented at certain railroad crossings in late 2013 as part of the Danbury Signalization Project. The issues cause grade crossing gates and lights to activate on occasion when no train is in the area. Metro-North Railroad has taken steps to reduce impacts on traffic and ensure safe train operation.

As a result, Danbury Branch riders will be able to present their tickets for travel on Harlem Line trains in New York while the railroad works to correct the problems.

“We recognize that recurring delays on the Danbury Branch are causing difficulties for our commuters’ daily schedules,” Metro-North Railroad President Joseph J. Giulietti said in a statement. “We are working with the manufacturers of the newly installed system, Alstom and Siemens, to resolve the underlying issues affecting the system.

"In the interim, we are going to make this change, and any other change possible, to help our customers until we can restore reliability to train schedules on the branch.”

Since the issues were identified, trains have been operating on a “stop and warn” system, requiring the train to stop before each crossing and warn motorists that a train is coming through. This practice has reduced train speeds and affected service.

About 2,200 commuters use the Danbury branch on an average weekday.

The trains, pulled or pushed by diesel engines make many grade crossings along its 23.9-mile route. Danbury branch train stations are at Danbury, Bethel, West Redding, Branchville, Cannondale, Wilton, Merritt 7 and South Norwalk.

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This has affected me personally on a daily basis. Almost every day I am late for work and so stressed. I used to take the 7:10am Danbury line train from South Norwalk to GCT, but no longer do because it is late every single day. I now take the 7:02 from South Norwalk, which also arrives late (not sure why this one is always late, as they aren't suffering from 'signal problems'). I have had more stress over the last few months because ALL OF THE TRAINS GETTING INTO NY LATE. This is a bad situation for people who have to punch a time clock. With all the forums and public displays of frustration, my biggest gripe is not getting into GCT ON TIME. The trains from SoNo used to be 55-60 minutes and now they take off late and they take way longer than 55 minutes. As soon as I can, I am looking for a job in CT, so I don't have to deal with this stress anymore. It's just too much year after year, sadly.