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June 3, 2013

CT commuter alert: Summer heat may slow Metro-North

Contributed photo A MetroNorth railcar

Metro-North Railroad says slight delays are possible when summer temperatures soar, The Associated Press reports.

The Connecticut Post reports that Metro-North spokesman Aaron Donovan says temperatures above 90 degrees can add five to 10 minutes to the commuting time between New Haven and Grand Central Terminal.

Temperatures above 90 degrees can add 5 to 10 minutes to the usual commuting time between New Haven and Grand Central Terminal, he said.

The gap between the pantograph, which is the arm on top of the train car that draws power from overhead lines, and the catenary system must remain within a precise distance and tension.

‘‘The heat causes the wires to expand, imperceptibly to the naked eye,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘But even a micrometer of change in the gap between the wires and the pantograph will affect the train speed.’’

Only the main New Haven line trains are affected, he said. Many branch lines use diesel engines and the Harlem-Hudson line uses a third rail system to draw power.

The slowdown isn’t automatic, and it isn’t for the entire length of the trip. Much depends on the curvature of the track and other factors, Donovan said. New Haven line trains switch to third-rail power in Pelham, N.Y.

Donovan says delays could be longer if the temperature rises above 100 degrees.

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