Commuter Rail Outage A Major Headache For Hedge Funders

Sep 27 2013 | 10:24am ET

The largest and third-largest hedge fund centers are also the two most intertwined, given their proximity: Manhattan is less than 25 miles from the Connecticut border and southeastern Connecticut's hedge fund hubs. Normally, this means that it takes less than an hour via commuter rail to get from Greenwich or Stamford to Grand Central Terminal, but the next couple of weeks look to be anything but normal.

The steel ties that bind Manhattan and Connecticut are snarled after a key electrical feeder to Metro North Railroad's New Haven line went down on Wednesday. The outage means many fewer trains and much longer commutes for hedge fund and financial services employees, whether they rely on the rails or the now much-more-crowded highways.

Electrical provider Con Edison and Metro North are scrambling to bring power back to the tracks—where trains are currently using diesel-power engines. But Con Ed warns that the type of repair needed generally takes about three weeks.

"Our crews are working diligently around the clock," Con Ed spokeswoman D. Joy Faber told Reuters. "But this type of work, we're looking at a couple of weeks here."

The outage has also seen the cancelation of Amtrak's high-speed Acela service between New York and another hedge fund center, Boston, at least through Sunday.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said that he was frustrated by the slow progress and that he had ordered road work suspended on the highways to New York until the problem was resolved. He also urged commuters who are able to to work from home.

The issue isn't just affecting commuters headed to hedge funds and other financial services firms in the big city. Many hedge fund employees who live in New York rely on Metro North to get them to their offices in Connecticut.

Commuters report that their travels are taking at least an extra hour in each direction, due to increased traffic, fewer trains and the numerous transfers required between trains and buses.

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