Tag Archives: MTA Metro-North

Metro-North Safety, Bridge and Yard Improvements

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MTA Metro-North Railroad officials recently presented to the New York and Connecticut governors a 100-day report on the railroad’s action plan designed to improve safety, restore reliability and improve communications.

Of the plan’s 32 initiatives, 21 have been fully implemented, seven are in progress and two will be pursued after outside entities submit independent reports, Metro-North officials said in a press release. Two additional initiatives — implementing a “back-to-basics” plan for train reliability and service delivery, and communicating service delivery information to customers and elected officials — will continue as ongoing, long-term Metro-North priorities, they said.

Major improvements that have been completed include enhancing track inspection and maintenance, installing alerters and video cameras in engineers’ cabs, beefing up the safety and training departments, expanding employee testing programs to ensure understanding of safety rules, creating a computer-based track worker safety system, and implementing a Confidential Close Call Reporting System.

The Federal Railroad Administration completed its review of Metro-North practices in May, and its recommendations are incorporated into the 100-Day report. Two external reports, from the MTA’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the National Transportation Safety Board, have not yet been submitted, but Metro-North has committed to implementing any recommendations from those entities that have not already been addressed, railroad officials said.

“Metro-North intends to maintain its infrastructure and rolling stock to the highest standards of safety and reliability,” said President Joseph Giulietti. “This requires ensuring that we have established the appropriate inspection, maintenance and replacement plans and that we have the necessary resources to carry them out effectively. This will require ongoing funding, not only for Metro-North’s operating budget, but also for the railroad’s capital needs in New York and Connecticut.”

Metro-North’s action plans were put into place following a series of accidents, including the Dec. 1 derailment near the Bronx, N.Y., that resulted in four deaths. The train derailed after speeding through a curve.

On the recommendation of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is creating a Transportation Reinvention Commission to ensure the capital plan it submits by Oct. 1 will adequately account for demographic, ridership and climate shifts that will shape mass transit in this century. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy and the Congressional delegation have pledged to seek federal funding for their state’s investment needs.

Meanwhile, MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast and Giulietti met on Monday with Malloy and Connecticut Transportation Commissioner James Redeker to develop short- and long-term strategies for addressing infrastructure needs of the 118-year-old Walk Bridge that crosses the Norwalk River in downtown Norwalk, Conn. Metro-North and Amtrak service in Connecticut was disrupted for the second time in two weeks earlier this month. On June 6, the swing bridge — which allows marine traffic to pass underneath — got stuck in the open position and failed to close properly.

Teams from the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) and Metro-North will conduct an operation review of procedures at the bridge to minimize future risk of failure; the teams will work together and are expected to report their findings and recommendations by mid-July. Over the long term, both parties will push for federal funding to allow for the replacement of the bridge, according to a Metro-North press release.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) Commissioner James Redeker last week toured the New Haven Rail Yard, which is undergoing a $1.15 billion, multi-year upgrade and expansion.

Malloy also announced that a fifth new power supply substation has been put into service on the New Haven commuter-rail line, adding more redundancy and increasing options to reduce the chance of future prolonged power failures, state officials said in a press release.

“This rebuilding and expansion is the best demonstration of our commitment to investing in new facilities, maintaining our rail assets and providing the best and safest possible service to Connecticut commuters,” Malloy said.

Connecticut’s State Bond Commission, chaired by Malloy, recently approved $80 million for the rail yard program. The state funding will pay for a new warehouse for rail-car components, storage tracks for rail cars, demolition of an old storage facility and a pedestrian bridge linking Union Station and the yard so employees can more easily access the facility.

“We have seen what can happen when there’s a major power failure on this railroad – disrupting service, inconveniencing commuters and the ripple effect into the local and regional economy,” said Redeker, referring to last fall’s power outage on the New Haven Line in Mount Vernon, N.Y., which disrupted service for two weeks.

The officials’ tour began at the yard’s $215 million “Component Change-Out Shop,” which features a 35-ton bridge crane and in-floor lifts that can lift cars individually or in pairs.

Last month, a fifth new power supply substation was put into service for the rail yard by United Illuminating Co. in partnership with ConnDOT. Previously, the yard was powered by the Devon Supply Substation in Milford. The new power source and its electric switch heaters will allow additional redundancy and power options to maintain and operate the New Haven Line more efficiently and safely, state officials said.

Connecticut To Seek Operators For New Haven-Springfield Commuter Rail Line

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Newington Junction Station in 1930’s

Newington Junction is a section of the town of Newington, Connecticut. It is centered at the intersection of Willard Avenue (Route 173) and West Hill Road in the northwestern part of the town, in the area generally just south of the Hartford city line. The name of the area refers to the railroad junction where the railroad line from New Haven meets with the railroad line from Bristol and Waterbury. The depot on the left was built in 1891 by the New York & New England RR. The passenger station on the right and the freight depot behind it were constructed by the NYNH&H in 1890.

Thanks to Tyler City Station, The most authoritative source for information on Connecticut railroad stations

The Hartford and New Haven Railroad of Connecticut was chartered in 1833 to build a railroad between Hartford and New Haven. The Hartford and Springfield Railroad was incorporated April 5, 1839. It built the Massachusetts portion of the Hartford-Springfield route, which opened in 1844. In 1847, it was united with the Hartford and New Haven Railroad. The H&NH was consolidated into the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in 1872. Ownership of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line passed to Penn Central and was sold to Amtrak when Conrail was formed. During Amtrak ownership, the second track was ripped up. Can’t blame them, but Governor Malloy’s predecessors should have stepped in and paid to keep it.

Update April 3, 2014

Connecticut is looking for providers to operate a planned high-speed commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield.

Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration says it will begin accepting competitive proposals from railroad companies in the next six to twelve months to operate the shuttle, which is scheduled to begin service in late 2016.

Deputy Transportation Commissioner Anna Barry says the process is designed to get the best quality operation and customer service along a key corridor.

We’re making improvements to the line to improve speeds up to a maximum of 110 miles an hour,” Barry says. “And we think we’ll offer a competitive travel time for folks who are traveling between New Haven and Springfield and points in between. And we think it will provide a tremendous opportunity for folks traveling between those points for work, school, recreation and overall economic development.”

Barry says Amtrak, which owns the tracks, is being encouraged to compete to provide the shuttle service that is slated to start with about ten round trips a day  Lot of good competitors out there too, starting with MTA Metro-North. Put Veolia in there too.

Saw recently that the Governor arranged for a special train to New York City for fans of University of Connecticut going to their successful basketball finals. But the train started in New Haven! Last I knew, UCONN was east of Hartford in Storrs. No rail there, transportation is provided by the Mary Martin bus company. But just a few miles away is Manchester served by freight railroad Connecticut Southern Railroad. Wave some dollar bills in front of them, and I bet they would let a special train use their tracks. No, the problem was probably between Hartford and New Haven with, of course, Amtrak.

Like the I-95 corridor across southern Connecticut, the I-91 corridor through the center of Connecticut is a vital artery for economic development and jobs growth,” Governor Malloy said.  “Enhancing commuter rail service between New Haven and Springfield will benefit commuters and their employers, and will reduce traffic congestion by taking cars off the road, with the added bonus of reduced pollution.”

The Governor continued, “As the gateway to New England, the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail program will also facilitate improved service to Massachusetts, Vermont and eventually Montreal.  New train service will connect communities, generate sustainable economic growth, help build energy independence, and provide links to travel corridors and markets within and beyond the region.”

Amtrak will remain responsible for existing services on the line. For current services, visit www.amtrak.com

The New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail Program (www.nhhsrail.com) will provide significant new regional passenger rail service options as a key component of a robust and vibrant multi-modal regional transportation system.  With funding from the new High-Speed Intercity Rail Program created in 2008, the NHHS Rail Program will provide the infrastructure and trains to operate some of the nation’s best passenger rail services.  As the gateway to New England, the NHHS Rail Program will also facilitate improved service to Massachusetts, Vermont and eventually Montreal.

In the future, NHHS rail service will operate at speeds up to 110 mph, cutting travel time between Springfield and New Haven to as little as 73 minutes.  Travelers at New Haven, Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Springfield will be able to board trains approximately every 30 minutes during the peak morning and evening rush hour and hourly during the rest of day, with direct or connecting service to New York City and multiple frequencies to Boston or Vermont (via Springfield).  Future train stations also are planned at North Haven, Newington, West Hartford and Enfield.