Tag Archives: Metro North

Connecticut to hire consultant for Bridgeport station development.

The Connecticut State Bond Commission is scheduled to approve $2.75 million for the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) to hire a consultant to complete engineering, design and environmental permitting for the new Barnum Train Station in Bridgeport, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy announced late last week.The funds will enable the consultant to develop the station site on the city’s east side. The project will encourage transit-oriented and economic development in the city, Malloy said in a press release. Note the need for revitalization of the territory in the picture above.

“Moving this project forward demonstrates our commitment to helping municipal partners and stakeholders make their communities more accessible, more walkable centers of cultural and economic activity.” he said. “In the process, we are also building a foundation to make Connecticut a stronger and more regionally competitive state by growing jobs for residents and providing more flexible, convenient transportation options for employers and employees alike.”

The new Barnum Station project has been deemed feasible by a recent study completed with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities, ConnDOT officials said.

The design phase is expected to take 18 months to complete. Soil remediation would begin in spring 2016, construction on the station could occur in 2017 and service might start in fall 2018, ConnDOT officials said.

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A profitable railroad: Durango & Silverton (And How Did We Get To This Subject)

I recently stumbled on an article in the Milford (Connecticut) Mirror. It was written by Jim Cameron.  Jim has been a Darien resident for 23 years. He is the founder of the Commuter Action Group and also serves on the Darien RTM.
His opening comment attracted my attention:
“Hardly a week goes by that someone doesn’t ask me … ‘Why doesn’t a private company take over Metro-North and run it properly”” he goes on to talk:

“The reason all U.S. railroads got out of the passenger business is there was no profit to be made. Even with the highest rail fares of any commuter railroad in the U.S., Metro-North’s tickets still cover less than 75% of their actual operating costs … and that’s not counting the billions in capital spending needed to keep the rails, bridges and signal system running.

“But earlier this summer I rode a profitable, privately owned passenger train. It only runs 45 miles but commands $85-$175 per ticket one way. It’s been running for over 130 years and carries over 160,000 very happy passengers a year.

It’s Colorado’s Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, one of the most spectacular railroads in the world.”

NOW STAY TUNED. We Will tell you all about the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (their picture is at the top) further down the page. But first let me hang in beautiful Milford, Connecticut.

About 20 years ago, we published an article by Joseph H. Cooper of Milford. It is a little humorous and I am sure you will enjoy. It was published in the BRIDGE LINE BULLETIN of the Bridge Line Historical Society. It is available on our OMINOUS WEATHER WebSite. ENJOY:

MetroNorthTrain

A Milford Commuter’s Idea

A Milford, Connecticut attorney, Joseph H. Cooper, who commutes daily to work in New York City proposed a hostile takeover of Metro-North Commuter Railroad. Along with 95,000 other commuters who normally travel between New York City and Fairfield or New Haven counties in Connecticut or Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties in New York, he was angered by two recent wildcat strikes.

He feels neither the unions nor management have any vested interest in keeping the commuter-customer content, satisfied – let alone happy and well-served. Commuters seem to be only funders who constitute the system’s major source of revenue (other than state subsidies).

Cooper feels that if commuters had rights as shareholders, they would have at least some say, if only through proxies. Managers and union members ($40,000/year before overtime conductors) profit even if the commuters are not well served. There are no financial penalties for poor performance.

Cooper’s idea is to get a group of train-riding investment bankers to form a syndicate that will take over Metro-North and spin off the New Haven, Hudson and Harlem lines to their respective commuter-investor groups. It would be viewed as a hostile takeover (would the Long Island Railroad act as a White Knight?) but at least the investor would get something for his or her leveraged buyout.

Monthly commutation charges would be pegged to debt-service requirements. Single fares could accumulate in a sinking fund. It might come to pass that improved reliable service would result in debt retirement. Bar-car revenues alone might pay for a big hunk of operating costs. Special transit bonds would be issued to fund the deal.

Now for the Durango & Silverton:

“People will pay a fair price to see history,” says owner Al Harper who, along with his wife and three sons, is hands-on in running this National Historic Landmark every day. His passengers come from around the world to the tiny town of Durango, just to take this ride.

The D&SNGR runs 3-4 steam power trains up the mountain to the tiny town of Silverton (with only one paved street) using restored passenger cars kept painstakingly in working order by dedicated craftsmen.

Unlike depressing historic rail lines in the east, which run a few cars two miles down a track then return, this is a fully working railroad with a paid, year round staff of 75 that, in the summers, swells to 200, many of them volunteers. Damn, I would pay them to volunteer on this railroad! And some folks do.

For $1,000 (one-way), you can ride in the cab of their old steam locomotives wearing authentic overalls and cap. You can even help them shovel coal into the boiler. For $134 (one-way), you can ride in an open gondola car, or for $175, enjoy the 3 1/2 hour ride sipping wine in a restored 1880 first class car.

While many who ride this line are railfans (“foamers”, as they are pejoratively called by most railroad folks, because they foam at the mouth when they see a train), history buffs or western fanatics, the D&SNGR’s owners know they have to grow their audience, so they offer discounts for kids and many other specialty excursions: Brews and Blues, a Cowboy Poet excursion and many seasonal trips. But no, they have no plans for “Reefer and Rails,” despite the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. (Durango has yet to authorize retail sales of pot.)

They are clever marketers, packaging the train ride with horseback riding, ATV’s, camping and other activities. And, importantly, they have the support of their community which recognizes how much this little railroad means to the economy. Eight years ago it was calculated that the railroad brought $100 million a year to Durango in business … hotels, meals, shopping … not to mention those employed by the railroad.

Imagine that: A railroad that people will travel thousands of miles to ride, are willing to pay high fares because they get an amazing experience, owned by people making a good return, but reinvesting for future generations of customers, while keeping the local economy thriving.

Yes, you can run a great railroad that people love and turn a profit!

Check out the WebSite for the Durango & Silverton

Durango was founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway in 1879. The railroad arrived in Durango on August 5, 1881 and construction on the line to Silverton began in the fall of the same year. By July of 1882, the tracks to Silverton were completed, and the train began hauling both freight and passengers.

The line was constructed to haul silver & gold ore from the San Juan Mountains, but passengers soon realized it was the view that was truly precious.

This historic train has been in continuous operation between Durango and Silverton since 1882, carrying passengers behind vintage steam locomotives and rolling stock indigenous to the line. Relive the sights and sounds of yesteryear for a spectacular journey on board the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Visit our online version of All Aboard Magazine, the official magazine of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Now where are they? Check out where to stay and what else is out there.

After your first night of lodging, get up the next morning to depart on the one-of-a-kind ride with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This trip through time winds through the spectacular and breathtaking canyons in the remote wilderness of the two-million acre San Juan National Forest. You will relive history with the sights and sounds of yesteryear on this 1882 adventure as you ride round-trip from Durango to Silverton, Colorado. The coal-fired, steam-operated locomotives are maintained in their original 1923-1925 vintage condition as one of the last authentic operating steam train’s in the world. In Durango, take time to enjoy the Railroad Museum, located in the rail yard roundhouse featuring full-size locomotives, maps, photos, artwork, memorabilia, and authentic collectibles. While in Silverton, visit the Freight Yard Museum at the depot to learn about the history of the Rio Grande Railway as a freight line.

You will return to Durango late afternoon to enjoy some leisure time and a fabulous dinner in town. Consider staying extra days to take on more of Durango’s unique adventures like tours of the world-famous Mesa Verde National Park, whitewater rafting, jeep and hummer tours of Colorado’s wild high-country, Hot Air Balloon rides and much more!

PUBLIC SUPPORT OF PRIVATE RAILROADS

OK,We talked about private railroads that make money, we talked about public railroads that don’t do very well. Let”s talk about public support of private railroads.

The greatest economic factor in the 19th Century was the railroad. They colonized the West with the 160 acre homesteads. They moved crude oil to market. The biggest factor in steel production was railroads. The meat packing industry was possible because the reefer car was invented.

In spite of early discrimination in favor of canals, there was public support of private railroads in New York State. Mohawk & Hudson stockholders were liable for its debt but the State could purchase it in five years. The New York & Erie got a $6.2 million donation because it could not connect with lines into New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Johnstown contributed $175,600 for the construction of the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville. The Town of Queensbury donated $100,000 to the Glens Falls Road (later part of the D&H). When the long-gone road through town was built, Schoharie contributed $20,000 in State bonds which had been given to the town for an excess of volunteers in the Civil War. The common method of financing was for municipalities to purchase common stock. The Town of Theresa bought 600 shares of the Black River & Morristown (later a branch of the NY Central).

Only a few municipalities held railroad bonds. Promoters preferred they buy stock because bonds were easier to market as they could be discounted. The Troy Union Railroad issued $30,000 of common. The city issued $680,000 of 6% bonds. The Rensselaer & Saratoga, Troy & Boston, Schenectady & Troy, and Hudson River line agreed to subscribe for equal amounts of the capital stock and to guarantee payment of the principal and interest on the community’s securities. The city’s investment was secured by a first mortgage on the carrier’s property.

The Town of Delhi paid no principal on bonds it had issued on behalf of the NY & Oswego Midland. Property values in Delhi had risen 100% on rumor of a railroad. In 1893, the Town of Andes had to borrow $120,000 to pay its debt.

The NY & Oswego Midland (later the NY Ontario & Western) zig-zagged 250 miles across the State in search of municipal bonds. It bypassed Syracuse because it didn’t subscribe to bonds. It halted at the Utica line until they subscribed $200,000.

The Albany & Susquehanna had an excellent lobby organization in Albany. Some stocks and bonds were held until the 1940’s. Greene held DL&W and sold its stock in 1946. Colesville held A&S which was traded for D&H. In 1949, Syracuse was still paying on 75 year old bonds. In 1942 the Auburn comptroller discovered 5000 shares of NY & Oswego Midland in his vault.

The D&H in trying to recover from the Depression and its dwindling anthracite trade needed to reduce its debt. It sold its NY Central stock and merged its leased lines. It found that the A&S was owned by many towns as minority shareowners.

The Town of Kirkland sold NYO&W stock in 1944 for $52/share. This stock had originated from the Rome & Clinton which was leased to the O&W.

The Schenectady & Troy was a municipally owned railroad. There was a rivalry between Albany and Troy. When Albany capitalists financed a railroad between Schenectady and Saratoga, Trojans countered by building the Rensselaer & Saratoga. But it needed a western connection so the Schenectady & Troy was proposed. When private interests didn’t come up with the cash, the city of Troy did. It was authorized in 1836 but not started until 1840 by the Whig mayor of Troy, Jonas C. Heartt. There were strikes, late delivery of rails and trouble getting the right of way. It was one of the best roads of the day-utilizing T shape iron rails and having easy grades. It was much better than the Mohawk & Hudson with its inclined planes. Finally, the M&H borrowed from the Utica & Schenectady and from the City of Albany and used the money to remove the inclined planes.

The biggest problem for the S&T was negotiating fair treatment from the Utica & Schenectady (which was closely allied with the Mohawk & Hudson). Erastus Corning was on both U&S and M&H boards. The M&H tied up all the immigrant business. Utica trains started before Troy trains reached Schenectady. Lack of favorable eastern connections was a problem. They built a line to the Western Railway at Greenbush (6 miles).

The Troy railroad tried to circumvent the U&S by building a road along southern bank of the Mohawk to Utica (Mohawk Valley). The tax burden in Troy was high because of its railroad.

In 1851 the Hudson River Railroad leased the Troy & Greenbush. If the Mohawk Valley were to be built, then there would be a true rival to the Mohawk & Hudson and the Utica & Schenectady. When the Hudson River RR failed to press its advantage, Troy tried to get the Harlem to extend to Troy from Chatham. Russell Sage chaired a committee that concluded city should sell its railroad. Also involved was Edwin Morgan, the president of the Hudson River RR. The net result was a sell-out to the New York Central.

The people of Troy had hoped to share in the prosperity of a state-wide rail route and gave liberally to make it a fine system, yet it never paid a dividend and hovered on the brink of bankruptcy. It was finally sold to the interests that were responsible for its failure. The victory of the M&H was because of a far-sighted management, bribery, ruthless competition and an effective alliance between business and politics.

Many municipalities (Hancock on the Erie for example) repudiated their bonds and there were many court cases. In 1875, 20% of municipal indebtedness was for railroad construction. There were many problems because of the Panic of 1873.

Transportation development of the last quarter of the 19th Century was characterized by the combination of many short, disconnected lines to form the great railroad systems of the State.

The 1851 Legislature chartered the Albany & Susquehanna to build 142 miles between Albany & Binghamton. It was designed to be broad gauge to interface with the NY & Erie. The A&S was hard to capitalize because of the barren area it passed through. Communities along the route subscribed $2 million plus there was $750,000 in state aid. The Erie was controlled by Jim Fisk and Jay Gould. They wanted to control the A&S. Stock price of the A&S went from $10/share to $90. Opposition to Fisk and Gould was led by Joseph H. Ramsey. Many municipalities sold their stock to one side or the other. Much of the money behind Ramsey was from the D&H. Lots of legal and illegal tricks were employed on both sides. Violence near Bainbridge led to State seizure. Of the 22 towns, 17 sold at par or better. Cobleskill and Colesville retained their stock.

Utica invested $500,000 in the Utica, Chenango & Susquehanna Valley (100 miles to Greene-completed in 1870) which was leased to the DL&W. In 1871 they also subscribed $200,000 to the Utica, Clinton & Binghamton. It was leased to the NY & Oswego Midland (later O&W). Utica also lost $250,000 on the Black River & Utica.

Albany was a successful lender. They lent $1 million to the Albany & West Stockbridge and to the Albany & Susquehanna. There was a $225,000 loan to the M&H. However, they lost $300,000 to the Albany Northern.

When the NY & Oswego Midland went broke, its obligations were assumed by the D&H and the DL&W.

State or municipal aid to railroads was banned in an 1874 amendment to the New York Constitution. Most railroads in the state were built between 1865 and 1875. Shown below is a list of the railroads in the state in 1852:
· Mohawk & Hudson
· Utica & Schenectady
· Schenectady & Troy
· Schenectady & Saratoga
· Rensselaer & Saratoga
· Troy & Boston (to Eagle Bridge)
· Troy & Greenbush
· Hudson River RR (to Greenbush)
· Albany & West Stockbridge
· NY & Harlem

· Hudson & Berkshire (to Chatham)
· (projected) Catskill & Canajoharie
· (projected) Mohawk Valley (Utica to Schenectady)

Find out about Contracts and Fairpromise

 

 

 

Metro-North wraps up track project to improve safety, speed for two lines

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(Woodlawn Junction: Courtesy of Wayne Koch)

MTA Metro-North Railroad recently completed an “extraordinary track reconstruction effort” that began in July 2013 on track through the central Bronx that’s used by New Haven and Harlem line trains.

The project resulted in a safer, smoother ride and improved operating speeds, Metro-North officials said in a press release.

All four tracks on a six-mile stretch from Melrose to Woodlawn now accommodate speeds up to 75 mph, resulting in improved performance and reliability in time for a schedule change that went into effect May 11, they said. Trains were limited to 60 mph prior to the start of the track reconstruction project.

“This project began out of an intensive focus on track safety that led to rigorous inspections using the most advanced rail inspection technologies that exist,” said Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giulietti.

During the project, workers removed 6,157 concrete ties; installed 7,537 new wood ties; trenched 6,350 feet of the right-of-way shoulder or between tracks to improve drainage; installed new rail on various curves; welded rail joints and installed new insulated joints; excavated and removed 4,995 cubic yards of mud created by poor drainage along the track; and removed debris, garbage and graffiti on railroad property.

Metro-North New Haven Line Power Upgrade Continues

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An ongoing power upgrade for the New Haven Line passed a major milestone with the installation of a second new transformer at Mount Vernon, MTA Metro-North Railroad officials announced.

The effort is part of a project to enable Metro-North to use the regenerative braking technology on its newest rail cars, the M8s, to feed power back into the catenary system each time the cars go into braking mode. This excess electricity reduces Metro-North’s overall power demand.

Four 35-year-old transformers were replaced with two more efficient new ones, ensuring reliability to handle additional power loads and allowing electricity generated by the brakes of the railroad’s new fleet of M8 rail cars to be fed back into the power grid.

The substation sits in an area surrounded by a chain link fence that also was replaced with a more secure fire wall as part of the $51 million project.

One new transformer was installed at Mount Vernon last fall and was adequate to serve the power needs of the line. The second new transformer was installed and cut over this past weekend bringing redundancy to the system.

The remaining work entails completely replacing the remaining components of the substation including replacing the secondary switchgear at New Rochelle, supplementing underground feeder cables from Mt. Vernon to New Rochelle with aerial, high tension wires, replacing the existing signal substation and installing a new circuit breaker house at Pelham.

In March, a similar upgrade was completed, doubling the capacity at the Cos Cob West substation. The railroad was then able to deliver power to the New York segment of the New Haven Line from Cos Cob through an upgraded tie system at the Harrison and Rye switching substations. This contingency was available but not needed during the recent installation.

The Con Edison power supply into the substation is 138 kilovolts, which the transformers step down (convert) to 27 kilovolts in order to feed the overhead catenary wires that supply electricity to the trains.

The project allows Metro-North to use the regenerative braking technology on its newest rail cars, the M8s, to feed power back into the catenary system each time the cars go into braking mode. This excess electricity reduces Metro-North’s overall power demand. To take advantage of this potential power savings, the existing controls and metering at the Mount Vernon East substation are also being reconfigured.

Before the work began, Metro-North, Con Edison and the New York Power Authority (“NYPA”) developed a contingency plan to assure continued power service to the Mount Vernon substation and submitted it to the New York State Department of Public Service (“DPS”) for an independent, third party review and approval.

Metro North Installs Autonomous Track Geometry Inspection System (ATGIS)

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MTA Metro-North Railroad officials announced last week the railroad will purchase a new track monitoring system that will be mounted on passenger cars to provide continuous inspection data and complement the in-depth inspections performed twice each year.

The two methods are intended to supplement each other and increase the amount of data available to Metro-North track engineers regarding adherence to federally mandated track parameters such as gage, curvature, height and overall alignment.

“Metro-North’s first task is to improve safety on the railroad by all means, including using the latest technology,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti in a press release. “We want to know before normal wear and tear turns into a failure. Continuous monitoring of joints and the surface of the rails themselves will keep us on top of maintenance.”

The Autonomous Track Geometry Inspection System (ATGIS) equipment will be mounted on passenger trains moving at regular speeds. It will generate continuous data to allow Metro-North to identify track geometry anomalies early and prevent failures.

Metro-North plans to purchase four units, one for each major train equipment type: a diesel locomotive, a diesel-hauled coach, an M8 and an M7. The equipment will provide inspection coverage for all three lines and branches.

The ATGIS and track geometry car inspections address a Federal Railroad Administration recommendation that Metro-North make better use of available technology in its track inspection protocol. The railroad will continue to perform twice-weekly track inspections by qualified Inspectors who walk track and drive high-rail vehicles over the infrastructure to look for defects, Metro-North officials said.

Connecticut Gov. Malloy ‘disappointed’ with lack of details in Metro-North action plan

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MTA Metro-North Railroad has prepared a 100-day action plan that requires the railroad to “rebuild a culture of safety,” Metro-North President Joe Giulietti said in a letter to Connecticut state officials.

But the letter outlining the plan, which Giulietti promised in a Feb. 17 meeting with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, was disappointing for not including enough specifics on how the railroad plans to improve its safety record, Malloy said in a press release on March 6.

Giulietti, on the job for just three weeks, unveiled the action plan in a March 3 letter to the Connecticut Department of Transportation. In the letter, he describes several steps the railroad will take to restore safety and service reliability.

Metro-North is undergoing government reviews and investigations for incidents that occurred over the past year, including a derailment in Bridgeport, Conn., in May 2013, and an accident in the Bronx in December that resulted in four fatalities. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating that accident, and in December, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) began a “Deep Dive” initiative involving a 60-day safety assessment of Metro-North. Also, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Metro-North’s parent, established a Blue Ribbon Panel on Safety to address the railroad’s recent safety record.

“I understand the constraints that Metro-North faces because of the FRA investigation, and while the letter is certainly a roadmap to better and safer service, riders need to know that there is a plan with benchmarks and deadlines in place,” Malloy said.

The governor expects to hold the railroad and MTA to their commitment to implement the 100-day plan by June 11, “and I fully expect many actions to be completed in advance of that date,” he said.

In his letter, Giulietti said he anticipates the Deep Dive initative and MTA panel reviews will be completed “soon,” and the NTSB investigations will likely be completed in fall. Also, after the Bridgeport incident, the Transportation Technology Center Inc. was retained to assess and improve track maintenance and inspections. Metro-North also undertook a “comprehensive right-of-way improvement program” to address track conditions on all three lines, Giulietti’s letter states.

“The mere promise of a safer, more reliable service is not enough; Metro-North must develop concrete plans and actions and deliver on them,” Giulietti wrote. “This 100-day action plan is an important first step. … Our priorities are simple. We need to operate safely. We need to start communicating better. We need to bring back Metro-North’s legendary on-time performance.”

BUT keep watching us. We are trackingM-N’s progress!!!

Metro-North is implementing changes for NTSB after accidents

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MTA Metro-North Railroad has completed permanent changes to its signal system to ensure automatic speed enforcement at five critical curves and five moveable bridges in New York and Connecticut, the railroad announced yesterday.

With the completion of work at the Devon Bridge in Stratford, Conn., late last week, all signal modifications ordered by the Federal Railroad Administration in December have been completed well before the FRA’s Sept. 1 deadline, Metro-North officials said in a press release.

The FRA ordered the work after a December 2013 accident in which a Metro-North train derailed on a curve near the Bronx, N.Y., resulting in four passenger fatalities.

“The complete implementation of the requirements of the FRA’s Emergency Order 29, issued on Dec. 8, 2013, brings us another step closer to a safer railroad, which is our No. 1 goal,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti.

Signal engineers first designed modifications to the circuitry at each location by calculating where and when speed limits should be reduced. Then, signal maintainers had to reconfigure wiring along the tracks that sends the signal to the train to control its speed. Extensive testing was performed to confirm the changes were working as designed, according to the agency.

The signal display observed by train engineers in their cabs now will automatically indicate reduced allowable speeds on the approaches to these 10 locations. If the engineer does not reduce the train’s speed accordingly, the train will automatically come to a stop.

Metro-North signal forces began work on changes to the Automatic Train Control system at Spuyten Duyvil just days after the fatal derailment and completed the modifications there on the same day the FRA order was issued.

Signal system modifications for the remaining four curves at Yonkers, White Plains, Bridgeport and Port Chester were all completed by Feb. 8, ahead of the FRA March 1, target.

Work then shifted to the five moveable bridges on the New Haven Line at Cos Cob, South Norwalk, Westport, Bridgeport and Milford in Connecticut. The “Peck” Bridge in Bridgeport was completed first on January 18, 2014 and the fifth and final bridge at Devon was completed March 20.

MTA Metro-North Railroad and MTA Long Island Rail Road plan to install monitoring equipment designed to detect defective or overheated wheels and loads of freight trains that operate on publicly owned track and convey that information in real time to the railroads’ control centers.

The train fault detector system will help improve safety, reduce wear and tear of the tracks, and identify faults before they cause problems, said Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast in a press release.

The system consists of three components: a wheel impact detector that recognizes flat spots and other wheel defects; a “hot box” detector that ensures all roller bearings around axles are operating properly and not overheating; and a tag reader that identifies individual freight cars.

The railroads are seeking a vendor to design, manufacture, deliver and integrate these components to provide real-time reporting to the railroads’ control centers.

Metro-North intends to install the system east of Green’s Farms Station on the New Haven Line and south of Scarborough on the Hudson Line. Freight trains enter the Hudson Line from the south at Highbridge Yard in the Bronx and from the north at Poughkeepsie. Freight trains enter the New Haven line from the south at New Rochelle and from the north at New Haven.

The LIRR system will be installed on the Main Line west of Bellerose Station. Freight trains, including those operated by New York and Atlantic Railroad and CSX Transportation, enter LIRR tracks at Long Island City and Fresh Pond in Queens and at Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. These installations are in addition to fault detection improvements on CSX property that CSX agreed to in August 2013 following a freight derailment at Spuyten Duyvil last summer, MTA officials said.

MTA Metro-North Railroad will install outward and inward-facing video and audio recorders on all of its and MTA Long Island Rail Road’s trains in response to a recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Prospective vendors will be asked to design, manufacture and deliver an onboard video recording system. The base order would cover the newest cars in the railroads’ fleets, Metro-North’s M-8s, both railroads’ M-7s and cab cars, as well as all locomotives. The order also includes 843 car cabs for Metro-North and 926 cars for LIRR, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officials said in a press release.

“We will be systematically implementing recommendations put forward by the NTSB and other regulators to ensure the best practices are adhered to throughout the MTA family,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast.

The move to install the video and audio equipment is in reaction to recommendations issued by NTSB after a Metro-North train derailment in December that resulted in four fatalities.

Metro-North committed to install cameras on trains as part of the 100-day Action Plan issued after Joseph Giulietti became Metro-North’s new president in February. The cameras will aid in post-accident/incident investigations and deter behaviors that could affect safe train operations, MTA officials said.

MTA Metro-North Railroad In The News

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First of all a big five-alarm fire and building collapse on Park Avenue alongside Metro-North tracks to Grand Central Terminal.

Then, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is launching an investigation into the death of an MTA Metro-North Railroad track worker, who was struck and killed by a Hudson Line train earlier this week. 

The incident is the latest in a series of accidents that have occurred at Metro-North during the past year, including the December derailment in the Bronx that resulted in four fatalities. In yesterday’s incident, the Metro-North worker was struck by the train while he was working on track near Park Avenue and East 106th Street, New York City news media reported yesterday. 

The NTSB announced on its Twitter site that it was sending a team of three investigators to New York City to investigate the fatality.

Metro-North is undergoing government reviews and investigations for accidents that have occurred since May 2013, including a Metro-North foreman’s death while working on track, a derailment in Bridgeport, Conn., and the Bronx accident.
 
Yesterday’s incident occurred less than a month after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced new steps to ensure passenger and worker safety. Last week, Metro-North’s new president, Joe Giulietti, announced a 100-day action plan that requires the railroad to “rebuild a culture of safety.”

 

Metro-North takes steps to improve safety

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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.

 

 

Metro-North Response to Spuyten Duvil accident

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) yesterday announced that MTA Metro-North Railroad is making immediate improvements to reinforce safety at critical curves and movable bridges along its right of way.The improvements were directed Friday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter to the MTA and by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in an emergency order issued late last week.

The emergency order directs Metro-North to take immediate steps to ensure its train crews don’t exceed speed limits, modify its existing signal system and provide two employees to operate trains where major speed restrictions are in place.

The order also requires the railroad to provide the FRA with a list of main track locations where there is a reduction of more than 20 mph in the maximum authorized train speed by tomorrow. In addition, Metro-North must identify appropriate modifications to its existing automatic train-control system or other signal systems to enable adequate advance warning of and adherence to such speed restrictions.

The modifications will help prevent another over-the-speed-limit event if a locomotive engineer fails to take actions to appropriately slow or stop a passenger train, FRA officials said in a press release.

The FRA’s order followed the Dec. 1 accident in which a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx, N.Y., killing four passengers and injuring as many as 70 others. In its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that just prior to the derailment, the train was traveling 82 mph as it approached a 30-mph curve.

“Metro-North is taking important steps to improve safety for its customers and employees, and I expect the railroad will continue searching for ways to improve its operations and fully restore its commuters’ confidence,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast in a press release.

The railroad also must submit to the FRA for approval an action plan that ensures the safety of its operations for passengers and employees by Dec. 31. The plan must contain target dates and milestones for implementing necessary signal system modifications.

“Last year was the safest on record for our nation’s rail industry,” said FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo. “Even with a 43 percent decline in train accidents nationwide over the past decade, we must remain steadfast and vigilant to ensure passengers and employees are safe.”

Meanwhile, Metro-North officials announced the improvements they’ve made to date. Signal crews have installed new protections at the Spuyten Duyvil curve, the site of the derailment, which will warn train engineers of the approaching speed reduction and will automatically apply the train’s emergency brakes if speed is not lowered to the 30 mph maximum in the curve.

The signal improvement at Spuyten Duyvil was done simultaneously and in coordination with work to restore track, power and signal systems there after the derailment, Metro-North officials said.

By tomorrow, all Metro-North trains will enhance communication between train engineers and conductors to ensure trains are operated at safe speeds at four other critical curves as well as at five movable bridges, they said. Conductors will stand with engineers at each train’s control cab through the critical curves to verbally confirm that speed limits are adhered to. Where the train layout prohibits the conductor from reaching the engineer in a locomotive, they will communicate by radio. They also will communicate by radio at the five movable bridges.

Metro-North engineers are developing new signal protections to automatically enforce speed restrictions at the other four critical curves by March, and at the five movable bridges by September, Metro-North officials said.

The railroad also has surveyed its tracks and will reduce the maximum authorized speed at 26 locations in order to eliminate all locations where the speed limit drops by more than 20 mph. Signs will be posted along the right-of-way to alert engineers of reductions in maximum authorized speed at the four curves by Dec. 16.