FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- The end is in sight for Metro-North Railroad as work begins Sept. 6 on the final phase of a massive catenary wire replacement project on the New Haven Line in Connecticut.
Work will begin on two segments -- one from East Norwalk to Greens Farms and another from Bridgeport to Milford. The work will start simultaneously and involve the replacement of about 10.5 miles of catenary along track and in the Bridgeport Yard, Metro-North said in a release.
When this phase is done in spring of 2017, the catenary upgrade project in Connecticut will be completed.
One of the four tracks will be out of continuous service while this work is done, which will have a minimal impact on train operations in the area, Metro-North said. This project is funded and managed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Metro-North recently completed catenary work in the 7-mile stretch between Southport and Bridgeport, allowing peak-period trains to be rerouted on all four tracks in this area for the first time in four years.
"It also gave back to us greater operating flexibility and the ability to 'run around' potential service disruptions during emergencies," Metro-North said in a statement. "With completion of this segment, 80 percent of the Connecticut catenary replacement project is finished."
The aging catenary wires, which power the trains from above along the New Haven Line, were more than a century old. Problems with the wires caused frequent service issues, especially in extreme weather, as the wires sagged or contracted due to temperature changes.
"A lot has been accomplished since work in this section started in November 2007," Metro-North said. "All catenary wire that powers the trains has been changed out -- including complicated wire work at the Southport and Bridgeport interlockings."
Those are the section of track, signals and switches that allowing trains to cross over from one track to another.
Metro-North also replaced four open-deck railroad bridges in Bridgeport and Fairfield at North Benson Road, Fairfield Avenue, South Avenue and Westway Road with closed-deck ballast-style ones that provides a smoother ride. Another bridge, at Main Street in Bridgeport, was removed and filled in with backfill material flanked by retaining walls.
When this work is completed, Metro-North will have replaced the original "fixed termination" catenary, first erected in 1907, with a state-of-the-art constant tension system that better accommodates temperature extremes. Work to replace the New York State portion of the line was completed in 1995.