Commuter rail operated by Metro North brings around 125,000 people a day from Connecticut to Manhattan, letting people off at 125th street in Harlem and Grand Central Station at 42nd street and Park Ave.
Because the line goes into a tunnel around 90th street, you can’t use diesel locomotives – it uses 3rd rail until it gets to the junction with Amtrak that comes from Penn Station, then they switch to overhead cateranary which operates better at higher speeds.
Wednesday, Metro North and Consolidated Edison were operating with a single point of failure. They had pulled down the backup feeder for upgrading, leaving only the primary. They had done a “test” earlier to see if the primary 138 Kv power circuit could hold up by itself with no backup and the line deliberately overloaded with more trains than normal. That power line is already 6 years beyond its 30 year life. It passed that “test”. No problem, don’t worry.
Shockingly, the liquid nitrogen cooled cable overheated, burst and sustained serious damage on Wednesday. The backup circuit was out of service on pupose for two weeks. Metro North and Amtrak to Boston are now dead in the water for up to three weeks. Con Ed is trying to cobble together a temporary substation this weekend to boost the voltage from an adjacent residential neighborhood up to the 13000 volts used in the cateranary.
There are a few dual power (diesel/electric) locomotives available, but they aren’t compatible with the electric only passenger cars that each have their own Motors and power systems.
I’m so glad I left Connecticut.