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Metro-North Danbury Branch interim service plan starts Saturday

NORWALK, Conn. – Metro-North will replace trains with buses on the Danbury Line on weekends and during off-peak hours starting Saturday, according to a Connecticut Department of Transportation and Metro-North press release.

Under the plan, peak-hour trains will continue to operate, and buses will be used during off-peak, evening and weekend hours. The Danbury Branch operates between Danbury and South Norwalk, connecting with the main New Haven Line.

See the revised schedule here.

Beginning Saturday, March 1, weekend train service will be replaced with bus service. Beginning Monday, March 3, weekday morning peak-hour trains will leave Danbury 8 to 10 minutes earlier than the current schedule. Evening peak-hour trains will arrive in Danbury 11 minutes later than the current schedule. Travel times for all rail and bus trips have been adjusted compared to current schedules to reflect additional travel time required due to rail and highway travel time requirements.

The interim changes are being made in response to recent performance issues at grade crossings, the release said.

“We have identified an issue with false activation of equipment at railroad crossings when there is no train approaching,” said DOT Commissioner James Redeker. “Ensuring safety of the rail crossings through the proper operation of the signal system is our number one priority. We are aggressively pursuing a remedy, but until a fix is in place, we will operate the Danbury Branch on this revised schedule.”

The issues are with new technology implemented at certain crossings in late 2013 as part of the Danbury Signalization Project, the release said. Since the issues were identified, trains have been operating on a “stop and warn” system, requiring the train to stop before each crossing and warn motorists that a train is coming through. This practice ensures the safety of the grade crossing. To date, there have been no incidents of the grade crossings failing to protect the safety of motorists when trains are approaching a crossing, the release said.

About 2,200 commuters use the Danbury branch on an average weekday. In addition to Danbury and South Norwalk, there are stations at Bethel, Redding, Branchville, Cannondale, Wilton and Merritt 7.

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