Buses will be taking the place of off-peak weekday trains between New Canaan and Stamford through Oct. 5, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
During weekdays for the next four weeks, the track will be shut down as workers replace 32-year-old wooden ties on the rails as part of scheduled maintenance work.
Railroad ties are the parallel wooden blocks on which the metal rails lay.
Buses will stop at each station between New Canaan and Stamford, starting with the 9:36 a.m. train and ending with the 3:37 p.m. train, when the tracks will be back in use, the MTA announced in a news release.
Some local residents are not pleased by the inconvenience of bus travel.
"I hate when they do that," said New Canaan resident Phil Schoonmaker as he exited a train from New York last week. "It is annoying. I still don't get why we don't have the new trains either. They tempt us with them on the weekends."
A spokesman for the MTA said that the buses would attempt to run on the train schedule, but advised leaving extra time during travels.
"The buses should take the same amount of time as the schedule indicates," said Michael Gilof, a customer relations specialist for the MTA. "I always suggest when people are traveling from New Canaan to Stamford to leave 10 to 15 minutes earlier, and to expect 10- to 15-minute delays from Stamford to New Canaan, but the buses will leave on time from the stations at the beginning of the route."
Gilof also said if a bus was stuck in traffic or was otherwise late, the trains would not be held for more than a couple minutes at Stamford for fear of backing up the whole Metro-North system.
During the day, trains take between 16 and 19 minutes to travel from New Canaan to Stamford. There is typically a 10- to 12-minute layover at the Stamford station before the train to Manhattan.
According to Google Maps, the drive from the New Canaan train station to the Stamford train station takes between 18 and 23 minutes, depending on traffic, not including stops at any of the stations between New Canaan and Stamford: Talmadge Hill; Springdale; and Glenbrook.
Marjorie Anders, media liaison for the Metro-North Railroad, said that the MTA has anticipated the scheduling problem, and has a system in place that will cause a minimum in delays. Buses from New Canaan to Stamford will only stop at Talmadge Hill and not at Springdale or Glenbrook stations. Those stations will have their own bus loop.
The work is part of a 32-year cycle of maintenance on the branch line. Every seven years, one quarter of the 23,200 wooden ties that bear the weight of the trains on the track are replaced.
"These ties have a finite life," he said. "When you're running a train, it's more than the car you're riding in, it's also what you're riding on. It's good that they're doing preventative maintenance rather than waiting until the ties fail. It shows an important investment in this line."
Each day of the maintenance, workers will cut out about 300 of the old ties, slide new ties in with new plates that fasten them to the track, and then reattach the rail to the tie with screw lags, or what many refer to as spikes. Behind the crew will be a large computer-controlled machine that will add or remove gravel to increase or decrease track elevation.
Cameron said that concrete is being used now in some places in place of wooden ties, but that there have been problems with concrete. He noted that wooden ties have been around since the inception of the railroad in the early 1800s.
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