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Conn. commuter rail service to resume Wednesday

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Commuter rail service between Connecticut and New York City is expected to resume in full by Wednesday morning's rush hour, five days after a derailment and crash injured scores of passengers, transit authorities said Monday.

Crews have worked around the clock since Saturday and track rebuilding has progressed quickly, officials with the Metro-North railroad said.

Resumption of service is "tremendously good news," Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said at a news conference. Amtrak was also expected to be running Wednesday, state officials said.

The crash in Fairfield at rush hour Friday evening injured 72 people, including one who remained in critical condition Monday. It snarled commutes for roughly 30,000 people who normally use the train in the densely populated suburbs north of the city and into Connecticut. Investigators are looking at a broken section of rail to see if it is connected to the derailment and collision. Officials said it wasn't clear whether the rail was broken in the crash or earlier.

Commuters struggled Monday to find transportation, and with travel to work and back home far longer than usual. Some used Metro-North's alternative to their regular trains: A shuttle train ran between New Haven and Bridgeport, where a bus connection to Stamford circumvented the accident scene. After that customers boarded a train for Grand Central Terminal. That system was to continue Tuesday.

For Gary Maddin, the drive from his home in Milford to the Bridgeport train station normally takes 20 minutes. On Monday, it took an hour. Then he had a shuttle bus and a train ride before he got to his destination.

"It's a lot," he said. "It's a nightmare just to get into the city today."

Others drove themselves, and state officials nervously watched heavy traffic on two major arteries in southwest Connecticut, Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway.

But transportation officials were pleased that area highways were not as choked as they had feared, Malloy said. He said commuters heeded his warning over the weekend about the prospect of highways becoming parking lots if all 30,000 of the usual train riders drove instead.

In fact, backups on the Merritt Parkway were shorter than average Monday and I-95 was only slightly more jammed than usual -- and that was attributed to fog, Malloy said.

"Today went exceedingly well," the governor said. "People listened to us. Many people stayed home or worked from home."

Federal investigators arrived Saturday and were expected to be on site for seven to 10 days. They have revealed little beyond their interest in one particular rail section.

Connecticut lawmakers say they plan hearings on the crash on a rail network in need of extensive improvements.

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