MTA Declares Port Jervis Line Months Away from Hurricane Recovery

A few short days ago, Hurricane Irene ripped through the East Coast and for the most part, things have gotten back to normal.  Especially within the commuter rail world, where most passenger rail service in the East Coast has been restored; however, there are some exceptions.  According to information on the Metro Transit Authority’s (MTA) website, Metro-North’s Port Jervis Line is far from returning to normal.  The damages experienced by the Port Jervis Line are reported as “catastrophic.” MTA has highlighted four main issues for the Port Jervis Line: three washout locations of 1,000 feet each; a 400-foot section of track washed out to a depth of 8 feet; significant damage to several bridges; and suspected significant damage to the signal system, which is exposed and under water.  These are only initial problems identified by Metro-North, but further inspection of the 24 mile stretch of track will be done by an engineering firm.  Regardless of what additional inspections find, Metro-North is fairly certain that this will not be a quick fix; it will take several months to rebuild the tracks, signal and bridges necessary to restore train service.

In the mean time, those that rely on the Port Jervis Line will be given alternate means of transportation.  The passengers, which total in at about 2,300 daily, will be ride buses between Harriman Station and Route 17 station.  The buses will try to follow the train schedule and will become more numerous as Metro-North expands its efforts and station conditions become more allowing.  Port Jervis ticket holders will also be granted service to the Hudson Line, the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry and the Newburgh-Beacon Bus.

MTA has also noted that efforts are being made to complete the small remaining steps towards  recovery along other parts of commuter rail lines.  Other problems along the Metro-North and LIRR lines include power outages, which tamper with signal functions, fallen trees, floodwaters along with a need for rail and switch inspection.

This story shows that the damage experienced by Hurricane Irene was substantial in many areas, but it also shows that railroad issues as a result could be much worse.  Irene’s destruction is obviously bad news for the 2,300 daily commuters on the Port Jervis Line, but the East Coast is fortunate that a majority of their commuter rail service is up and running only days after the storm hit.  Other areas of the Metro-North Line could have easily suffered the same fate; tracks under several feet of water, flooded and destroyed with complete restoration months away.  Metro-North seems to be providing a host of options for inconvienced commuters and hopefully, the Port Jervis Line will be able to correct the destruction of Hurricane Irene in the coming months.



Dave Dachenglo September 1, 2011 at 5:03 pm

the media said this storm wasn’t as bad as predicted. well, looks like it was bad for some in the railroad game…

PNaw10 September 1, 2011 at 10:30 pm

The storm was bad, make no mistake. The media just downplayed it because everyone prepared. Safety precautions were taken, and tragedies (which the media loves) were averted.

Even though damage elsewhere wasn’t nearly as bad as it was on the PJL, there were still mudslides, washouts, signal outages, fallen trees and other problems on all Metro-North lines. If service had continued, New Yorkers would have just said, “eh, just a little rain,” and continued with their plans as normal. But if any train had hit an unexpected washout, mudslide or fallen trees, the ensuing derailment would have definitely been a mass casualty event. Even without any crashes, the extreme flooding in places like Beacon could have stranded or drowned people.

MTA made the right move by shutting down the entire transit system well in advance. Not only did it keep people away from any harm on the tracks, but it also made it abundantly clear to the entire city that this would be a serious storm. Most people heeded the advice and got where they needed to be in advance, so they wouldn’t get caught in a flood or a washout or whatever else.

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