FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — From calling in extra personnel to treating railcar door panels with anti-freeze agents and cutting back service, Metro-North Railroad is making preparations along the New Haven Line for another bout of snow and sleet set to hit Fairfield County beginning Wednesday night.
Metro-North announced it will operate on a reduced schedule Thursday, with some local and express trains being combined and making additional stops.
“This service plan represents 75 percent of our regular service and is based on projected lower ridership and our efforts to minimize the effects of the storm on our equipment and infrastructure,” the railroad said on its website. “The combined trains were chosen to minimize customer impacts and to get customers to their destination within 10 to 15 minutes of their normal time.”
The railroad has been working closely with the National Weather Service to monitor the storm— which is expected to dump 8 to 12 inches of snow throughout Fairfield County, said Meredith Daniels, a Metro-North spokeswoman. The storm is also expected to bring sleet and wind gusts up to 35 mph.
“We’re basically readying all of our snow-fighting equipment,” Daniels said. This includes snow blowers, plow trains, front-end loaders and backhoes, she said.
The railroad has also called in extra personnel, who will work to clear platforms of snow and ice, she said. With strong wind gusts in the forecast, Daniels said crews will also be armed with chainsaws in the event of fallen trees blocking trains.
Another way the railroad hopes to lessen the impact of the storm is by activating switch heaters before snowflakes start falling, Daniels said. These heaters, she said, help to keep switches functioning properly by preventing snow and ice buildup. Additionally, the railroad will run trains throughout the night to patrol for weather-related problems.
Spraying door panels with anti-freeze agents is another measure taken before a snowstorm, said Daniels.
Although the railroad makes a number of preparations before a storm, Daniels said it's not a guarantee there won’t be weather-related problems. This is especially true on the New Haven Line, as the overhead catenary wires powering the trains are susceptible to snow and ice problems, she said.
“There isn’t much we can do to prevent ice from forming on the wires. We just have to pay special attention to this,” Daniels said.
If there’s a serious problem with ice on the wires, Daniels said the railroad has to shut down power to the trains. As such, she said riders are always advised to expect delays, curtailed or suspended service during winter weather.
Riders are urged to check the Metro-North website for updated schedules and service announcements.