HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The two top officials at Metro-North Railroad and Con Edison on Monday tried to assure Connecticut's senators they're working together to prevent future power problems like the one that disrupted service along the nation's busiest commuter rail line last month, but acknowledged the cause of that outage remains unclear.
"Our companies will redouble our efforts to ensure that we are better prepared in the future," said MTA Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut, adding that no alternative transportation service can carry the New Haven Line's 132,000 daily customers.
Con Edison President Craig Ivey said his utility is still trying to determine what went wrong on Sept. 25. He said Con Edison has routinely taken transmission lines out of service without any issues and that the procedure is typically done about 20 times a year.
While a forensic review by Con Edison of the procedure is expected by early November, Ivey said he did not believe the age of the 36-year-old cable was to blame for the failure.
On Sept. 13, Con Edison took one of two feeder cables out of service, at the request of Metro-North, to accommodate the railroad's work at its Mount Vernon, N.Y., station. The remaining feeder cable failed on Sept. 25, cutting off power and forcing the commuter railroad to reduce service by half on its New Haven Line. Amtrak service was also affected by the 12-day disruption.
Such high voltage transmission feeders are housed inside oil-filled pipes, requiring crews to freeze the insulating oil as part of the process for shutting down a line. Ivey said it appears that procedure likely contributed to the power failure.
Besides Con Edison's reviews, the New York Public Service Commission is also conducting an independent investigation.
Ivey and Permut were among those testifying Monday in Bridgeport at a congressional field hearing organized by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security.
When asked by Blumenthal whether Con Edison plans to reimburse Metro-North for the refunds it is providing riders, Ivey said no, because the utility did not believe its "customers should bear the risk" if another customer decided to take one of the two feeder cables out of service.
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