Metro-North: human error caused shut down - FOX 13 News

Metro-North: human error caused shut down

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) - The two hour shut-down of the entire Metro-North Railroad system on Thursday was caused by human error during an electrical repair project, said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast.

Two main power supply units were taken out of service for replacement.  Technicians performing the work did not realize that a wire was disconnected on the other main power supply unit, added Prendergast.

Crews hooked up temporary power to computers so that the signals could be restored. At 9:41 p.m. the MTA Tweeted that power was restored and that train service was up and running again, "with delays."

"Last night's failure was unacceptable, pure and simple," said Prendergast.  "The project should have been analyzed for risks and redundancy before it began, and it should not have been performed when thousands of customers were trying to get home in cold weather."

More than 50 trains were forced to stop service for safety reasons.

Crowds swelled at the terminal as anxious commuters waited to board trains home. Photos from Fox 5's Sharon Crowley showed thousands of people waiting in Grand Central's main hall.

"Metro-North customers deserve better, and I extend my sincere apology to all of them," Prendergast said. "I have directed Metro-North to bring in an independent consultant to examine how and why these mistakes were made, and to recommend any necessary changes to operating procedures to ensure nothing like this ever happens again."

During the service outage, video from SkyFoxHD showed some darkened trains moving slowly southbound, presumably back into Grand Central Terminal.

All trains had light, heat and power during the disruption and customers were allowed to get off trains when they reached a station, according to the MTA.

This is the latest incident in a series of mishaps to befall the railroad in the past year, including a fatal derailment, a major collision, and a power line collapse.

The railroad links Manhattan and the Bronx to communities in suburban New York and Connecticut.

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Late Thursday, the MTA issued this detailed statement on what went down:

Metro-North train service has been restored on all three lines, Hudson, Harlem and New Haven.  Customers should expect significant residual delays.

At 7:45 p.m. power to the computer system that controls all Metro-North train movements was interrupted.

Rail traffic controllers took the immediate safe course of action and instructed all train engineers, via radio, to bring their trains to a stop at the first, nearest station. Customers were able to exit the train if they wished.

If an interlocking was before a station, the train was stopped before entering the interlocking. Signal maintainers were dispatched to those interlockings to take local control so these trains could proceed to the nearest station platform.

All trains had power, and there was heat and light on board.

Electricians immediately began troubleshooting and began establishing temporary power, which was achieved at about 9:30 p.m.

The railroad is slowly returning to service. Amtrak also was affected.

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