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Metro-North Trains Running Smoothly After Harlem Explosion

MTA crews clear the tracks in Harlem after Wednesday's explosion in order to resume Metro-North train service.
MTA crews clear the tracks in Harlem after Wednesday's explosion in order to resume Metro-North train service. Photo Credit: Metropolitan Transporation Authority via Flickr

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Service on Metro-North did not suffer many residual effects Thursday as a result of the deadly explosion in Harlem on Wednesday morning.

The explosion that killed seven people occurred adjacent to the train tracks along Park Avenue at 116th Street, knocking debris onto the tracks and shutting down all service into and out of Grand Central Terminal for much of Wednesday. Metro-North crews were able to restore service to the New Haven, Harlem and Hudson Lines before the evening rush hour Wednesday.

Trains on Thursday ran through the area as usual, according to Metro-North spokesman Aaron Donovan. Speeds are to 45 mph through 116th Street instead of the normal 60 mph while work is completed at the explosion site. The slower speeds are causing some train delays of six to 10 minutes.

Service was restored so quickly on the commuter railroad through the coordination of the New York City Fire Department, New York City Police and Metro-North Police, Donovan said.

"It was all hands on deck. We devoted as many resources as we had to," he said, adding that there were at least a dozen crew members were out on the tracks clearing debris.

MTA crews were not out on the tracks while the fires were still blazing. Members of the Fire Department made sure the area was safe before allowing MTA crews to work.

"Once they authorized us to go in, we were able to begin the clearance of debris," Donovan said. "Overall it went as smooth as one could hope given the tough circumstances."

Service was first returned to the New Haven and Harlem lines because they run on the two tracks farthest from where the explosion occurred. While those trains began running, crews continued to clear debris on the closest two tracks and were able to restore service to the Hudson Line about an hour later.

Debra Oria of Danbury, Conn., traveled to the city for a work meeting Wednesday, and had to take a subway from Grand Central to Woodlawn Station in the Bronx to take a Harlem Line train home. She said the trip took twice as long as it normally would, but she praised Metro-North's efforts to make traveling as easy as possible.

"When we arrived at the Woodlawn station, there was a line of Metro-North workers eight across. They just kept talking to people, telling us what was going on," Oria said.

She said employees worked to direct commuters and ease the crowds. "I thought it would be crowded on the platform, but they had great crowd control. It was good communication."

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