Three months after closing its Port Jervis Line because of storm and flood damage from Hurricane Irene, MTA Metro-North Railroad restored full train service on the line on Nov. 28—one full month earlier and at a substantially lower cost than originally expected.
The railroad operates 26 trains on the line on weekdays and 14 each on Saturday and Sunday.
Metro-North announced that, while through train service will resume, it has not completed all track repairs; however, it has moved the estimated completion date from Fall 2012 to June 2012.
Because of the ongoing track work, the running time on the Port Jervis Line will be slightly longer than before the storm—3 minutes longer on the inbound route and up to 7 minutes more for outbound trains. Speed restrictions are in place for three and a half miles of track between Suffern and Harriman, NY, and because only one of the two tracks between Suffern and Sloatsburg returned to service on Nov. 28 and all trains in both directions have to use that single track.
Metro-North expects to return the line to its pre-storm schedule on Jan. 15, 2012.
As a result of the rebuilding effort by its employees, Metro-North reported that the costs of repairs, substitute bus service, and lost revenue from the extreme damage from the storm are roughly half of the $60 million that was originally expected. The current estimate is between $30 million and $40 million.
Metro-North spokesperson Marjorie Anders explained that maintenance-of-way and signal department employees worked “from daybreak to sunset, seven days a week,” observing the site and determining what action to take, then worked side-by-side with the outside contractor hired to complete the restoration—whose bid came in lower than expected.
The railroad also saved money and effort by reusing stones that had been washed away from the trackbed, according to Anders.
“We had a big estimate of how much stone we would need for the job, but we didn’t have to buy that much,” she explained. “The track was scoured by the rising Ramapo River, but when the river water receded it left the washed-out stone not too far away, so we were able to salvage the stone and reuse it.”