It’s old wiring, and some of the catenary support towers are original century-old installations.
The ancient infrastructure is way past end of useful life even with Metro North’s excellent maintenance practices. You get more frequent breakdowns with old mechanical systems and the old supports than the newer installations on the line. Do not forget shoreline weather factor. Winter unleashes steady punishment on all shoreline-facing structures during peak storm season. The differences between light/fluffy snow and heavy caked-on snow or sleet/ice are dramatic shoreline vs. just a couple miles inland during most Noreasters, and there’s often a stiff sea breeze even in less-severe weather and even with Long Island Sound somewhat more protected from the worst of the Atlantic elements than other places. Pressure + time takes its toll more rapidly than with inland electrification, and if the weather alone doesn’t bring down a wire here and there it corrodes it enough that you get more pantograph downings on brittle stretches. There’s also a lot of new-growth trees along the ROW that were allowed to sprout and grow above catenary height during the deferred maintenance era. Lot of downed limbs from wind and heavy snow/ice, and MNRR has limited options for clearing a wide swath around the ROW when it runs through people’s backyards… the trees are a natural sound and sight barrier that the neighbors would go ballistic if cut down.
That’s the price the NH line has to pay for being the most congested passenger rail corridor in the country, running high-speed service on one of the oldest ROW’s and the single oldest still-operating electric installation in North America (other extant ones may have been older, but they completely scrapped and changed their type of electric collection method after early experimentation).
And with all due respect, the new, improved, high-tech crap doesn’t perform as well or as long as the old stuff did. It may run faster, when it runs, and it may look prettier, but the simpler the design, the fewer the problems.
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