The MTA, which also operates the New York City Transit Authority buses and subways, as well as the Long Island Rail Road, also has jurisdiction, through Metro-North, for use of the railroad lines on the western and eastern portion of the Hudson River in New York State. Service on the western side of the Hudson, within New Jersey, is actually operated by New Jersey Transit under contract with the MTA. North of the New Jersey state line, the western portion of the Hudson is part of New York State, and is also under the jurisdiction of Metro-North. There are 120 stations operated by Metro-North.
Before the Metro-North service was running as it is today, most of the same trackage was under the control of the large New York Central Railroad. Among the multiple rail branches the group eventually controlled was the New York & Harlem Railroad, which is where a fair portion of Metro-North trains serve today. From the mid-1800s until 1969 the New Haven Line, including the New Canaan, Danbury, and Waterbury branches, was owned by New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. This branch was started in the 1830s as a system of horse-pulled cars that connected the then-early Lower Manhattan to Harlem. The railroad had blossomed into multiple rail lines by 1852 that provided connecting service to Albany, Boston, Vermont, and even to Canada, through the junction of Chatham. In the 1870s, the New York & Harlem Railroad was bought by Commodore Vanderbilt, which added more railroad lines to his complex empire of railroads, which were run by the New York Central Railroad. However, a century later, around 1968, the northern section of rail in New York state was then owned by Penn Central Transportation because of a merger between the New York Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad. However, this merger eventually failed, due to large financial costs and government regulations, and the group would eventually be folded into the government created Conrail. The northern branch of railroad which served the Harlem Valley had then been ignored by Conrail, because of outrageous costs of maintaining service. At that point operational service ran only through Millerton, New York, by 1976; in 1980, to Wassaic, and after that, to Dover Plains, where it remained until 2000. However, the MTA had assumed responsibilities of all commuter rail from New York City earlier, in 1972, which has led to some success.
The Hudson and Harlem Lines terminate in Poughkeepsie, New York, and in Wassaic, New York, respectively. No other branches extend from these lines except that Metro-North does provide connecting service at the termination of the Harlem line to the surrounding region during summer months.
The Harlem and Hudson lines, and the Park Avenue mainline to Grand Central, are actually owned by Midtown TDR Ventures LLC, who bought them from the corporate successors to Penn Central, but the MTA has a lease on the entire system extending to 2274, and an option to buy starting in 2017.
The New Haven Line is operated through a partnership between Metro North and the State of Connecticut. Under the arrangement, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) owns the tracks and stations within Connecticut. ConnDOT also finances and performs capital improvements to such, within Connecticut. MTA owns the tracks and stations, and handles capital improvements for such within New York State. MTA also performs routine maintenance and provides police services for the entire New Haven Line, its branches and stations. New cars and locomotives are typically purchased in a joint agreement between MTA and ConnDOT, with the agencies paying for 33.3% and 66.7% of the tab, respectively. ConnDOT pays more because most of the line is located in Connecticut.
The New Haven Line has three branches providing connecting service in Connecticut- the New Canaan Branch, Danbury Branch and Waterbury Branch. Amtrak also operates intercity train service along the New Haven and Hudson Lines. At New Haven, the Shore Line East connecting service, which is run by Connecticut, continues east to New London. The New Haven Line also connects to the Providence and Worcester Railroad spur to the New Haven Shipping Terminal, facilitating the movement of freight to and from the terminal. Freight trains occasionally run on the New Haven Line as CSX, P & W, and Housatonic Railroad each have trackage rights on certain sections.
Because New Haven line is also part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, high-speed Acela Express trains run on the line from New Rochelle to New Haven, making stops at Stamford and Union Station in New Haven.
Metro-North is also going to upgrade its Operations Control Center located in Grand Central Terminal. In 2008, construction will start on a new Operations Control Center to replace all control hardware. Software upgrades will provide for state of the-art rail traffic technology.
A major signal study that will help Metro-North design and start construction on a new signal system on all three lines in both New York and Connecticut will continue in 2008.
The Port Jervis Line terminates in Port Jervis, New York, and the Pascack Valley line in Spring Valley, New York; these lines are located in Orange and Rockland Counties, respectively. Trackage on the Port Jervis Line north of the Suffern Yard is leased from Norfolk Southern by the MTA. New Jersey Transit, however, owns all of the trackage that is part of the Pascack Valley line in Rockland County, New York. Both lines, were once part of the Erie Railroad.
Because the vast majority of the stops for the Port Jervis Line and the Pascack Valley Line are located in New Jersey, New Jersey Transit provides much of the rolling stock (the cars for the trains) and the staffing, to operate the service west of the Hudson river. However, Metro-North equipment has been used on other lines that are operated by New Jersey Transit on the Hoboken division.
All stations west of the Hudson River in New York, except for , are owned and operated by Metro-North.
Metro-North is also considering extending Port Jervis Line service to Stewart International Airport in Newburgh , a move that could make a Tappan Zee Bridge rail line even more useful, as it would serve both commuters and travelers who choose to fly to and from Stewart, instead of the other three New York City-area airports.
As of February 2007, some services are still operated by FL9 and F10 diesels built between 1946 and 1960. Also the railroad has a fleet of leased Amtrak Genesis diesels that operate only in non-electrified territory as they are not equipped for dual-mode third rail service.
The third rails on the three Metro-North lines (East-of-Hudson) which go into Grand Central Terminal are unusual in that power is collected from below the third rail as opposed to above, unlike most other third rail systems (including the Long Island Rail Road and New York City Subway). This allows the third rail to be completely insulated from above, thus decreasing the chances of a person being electrocuted by coming in contact with the rail. This was important, because until the early 1970s the majority of the suburban stations had low platforms where the third rail was easily accessible; this danger was greatly reduced with the introduction of the high-level platforming of Budd Company-made Metropolitans (M1A's) in 1971 and the Cosmopolitans (M2's) between 1972 and 1977, both purchased by the MTA and practically identical to their sister cars on the Long Island Rail Road.
Metro-North offers many different ticket types and prices depending on the frequency of travel and distance of the ride. While the fare policies of the "East of Hudson" and "West of Hudson" divisions are essentially the same, they operate differently because the West of Hudson trains are operated by New Jersey Transit therefore using their ticketing system. All policies and prices indicated are as of March 1, 2008.
Ticket types available include One-Way, Round-trip (two one-way tickets), 10-trip, Weekly (unlimited travel for one calendar week), Monthly (unlimited travel for one calendar month), and special student and disabled fare tickets. MetroCards are also available on the reverse side of the weekly, monthly, and round-trip tickets.
All tickets to/from Manhattan (Grand Central and Harlem-125th Street) are distinguished as being peak or off-peak. Peak fares, which are substantially higher than off-peak trains, apply to trains that arrive in Grand Central between 5 AM and 10 AM and trains that leave Grand Central between 5:30 AM and 9 AM and from 4 PM to 8 PM all coinciding with the standard New York City rush hours. Off-peak fares are charged all other times including weekends and holidays. Tickets for travel outside of Manhattan are called "intermediate" tickets and the peak/off-peak rules do not apply. Generally, off-peak tickets are 15% less than the peak hour fare.
The fares themselves are distinguished by the 14 zones that the lines are divided into within New York State. In Connecticut, the fare structure is more complex due to the many branches on the New Haven line. Generally, these zones correspond to express stops on the lines and from "blocks" of service within the schedules.
A slight oddity of the fare policy is the CityTicket which can be used between Grand Central and any of the stations within The Bronx during weekends. The current fare is $3.25 despite the Lexington Avenue subway lines (4, 5, 6) serving the same area for only $2.
On the third weekend of every October, Metro-North hosts an open house at its Harmon Yard. Buses shuttle visitors from Croton-Harmon to the large brick shop building, where current and former locomotives and rolling stock are on display. Railroad employees from all departments are available to answer questions, share experiences and show how various maintenance equipment works. Food, model train displays and children-oriented activities such as clowns and facepainting are also available. It is popular with families and railfans alike. .
An episode of The Twilight Zone, "A Stop at Willoughby" was set largely around a commuter's regular trips on the New Haven line. The main character's stop at Westport was the same as series creator Rod Serling.
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