Con Ed repairs subway power system in hopes of reducing train delays

Power-related issues caused 32,000 train delays in the past 12 months, according to Gov. Cuomo.

Con Edison will undertake a yearlong project to try to reduce soaring train delays by improving power reliability in the subway system, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the utility company announced Wednesday.

Con Ed will test and repair the vast power flow system to the city’s subways, from manholes to subway signals, under an agreement with the state. Power-related issues — like complete loss of power, or frequent surges or dips in power — caused 32,000 train delays in the past 12 months, according to Cuomo.

It remains to be seen if the expansive project will actually lead to a noticeable improvement in subway service, which has seen nearly a 200 percent increase in delays over the past five years, MTA data show. Those 32,000 power-related delays accounted for only about 3.6 percent of all subway delays in the past 12 months, the data show.

“To repair the MTA, we must also focus on the services that the MTA relies upon,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The number one necessity is a reliable power supply. That must be provided by Con Edison. Over the years there have been band-aids placed all over the system. We need to fundamentally upgrade the entire system.”

John McAvoy, Con Edison chairman & CEO, said the company has created a special team of engineers dedicated solely to subway power issues. There are more than 1,100 Con Ed structures that serve signal systems at MTA stations, and the company has already completed inspections at nearly half of those structures.

The state’s Public Service Commission will monitor Con Ed’s progress on the project.

“We are being aggressive, both in the scope of our activities, and in the schedules we are implementing,” McAvoy said during a tour of MTA and Con Edison facilities near Columbus Circle Wednesday with Cuomo. “We are confident that our action plan, and the extensive resources we are dedicating to this effort, will improve service for subway riders in a meaningful way.”

Vincent Barone