A wildcat strike by conductors early Tuesday shut down a commuter railroad, stranding thousands of workers in Connecticut and New York City's northern suburbs.

The Metro-North Railroad went to federal court and obtained a back-to-work order but it was not immediately known if the conductors would obey the order quick enough for the evening rush hour.The railroad also filed a $1 million damage suit against the union for the walkout.

James Phelan, general chairman for the United Transportation Union, called the strike by 700 conductors because Metro-North failed to make a deposit of about $500,000 in a UTU pension fund, violating an agreement reached last December.

The strike idled the commuter lines before dawn and highway traffic into the city was snarled as commuters switched to their cars.