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Metro-North is continuing to make immediate safety improvements following orders from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The railroad was ordered to take various steps following the Dec. 1 derailment at the Spuyten Duyvil curve in the Bronx, which caused four fatalities.
• Developed and finished signal system modifications at the derailment site.
• Completed signal system modifications at the Jenkins curve in Bridgeport, Conn., and the Port Chester curve on the New Haven Line. In addition, modifications were made at Peck Bridge in Bridgeport.
• Enhanced communication among train crew to members to ensure trains are operated at safe speeds at the four remaining critical curves and five movable bridges on the railroad’s network.
• Surveyed all mainline track locations that require a reduction of more than 20 mph from the maximum authorized operating speed. The railroad also reduced speed limits at 33 locations both East and West of the Hudson River in order to eliminate all locations where speed limit drops by more than 20 mph and enhanced monitoring of compliance with speed restrictions.
Metro-North is making progress on other actions, as well, such as the development of signal system modifications at the two remaining critical curves at Yonkers on the Hudson Line and White Plains on the Harlem Line, and four remaining bridges on the New Haven Line. Two-thirds of Metro-North’s operating fleet is equipped with “alerter” devices in the engineer’s position to ensure they remain responsive. By 2014’s end, all older equipment without alerters will be retrofitted to include them or replaced with equipment that includes alerters.
Metro-North and the MTA Long Island Railroad recently committed $428 million for a contract to begin the installation of a positive train control (PTC) system. National Transportation Safety Board officials have said the Dec. 1 accident could have been prevented by a PTC system.
A 94-minute, non-stop ride to the East End is in the offering for the looming summer beach season as the LIRR has announced plans to run its Cannonball train non-stop from Penn Station every Friday from May 24 through Labor Day. The one-seat ride will skip Jamaica and head straight to Westhampton with subsequent stops at Southampton East Hampton, Bridgehampton and Montauk. The Friday train will depart Penn Station at 4:07 p.m. with westbound service — including a stop at Jamaica — departing Montauk at 6:37 p.m. on Sunday nights.
“There’s no better way to get from Manhattan to the Hamptons,” LIRR President Helena E. Williams said in a statement. “Our customers have long asked for a one-seat ride from Penn Station to the Hamptons and we are listening to them. This move eliminates the need to change trains with baggage at Jamaica.”
With a 34 percent increase in summer ridership last year, the LIRR is hoping to boost service along the Montauk Branch. The speedy ride east will cost passengers $27, and passengers have the option to reserve a seat for an additional fee. Previously, such Cannonball service had originated at the Hunterspoint Avenue Terminal in Long Island City with many riders picking up the train at Jamaica, and the new service does away with the transfer. For Hamptons-bound travelers, the Cannonball train has been a mainstay since the 1890s, and it remains both the longest route and the only one with a name operated by the MTA.