Tag Archives: New York City

New York MTA proposes $32 billion in capital investments for safety, reliability and expansion

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) just published a proposed $32 billion, four-year capital program designed to invest in safety and reliability measures for its subways, commuter railroads, buses, bridges and tunnels.

Proposed for 2015 through 2019, the program would “renew, enhance and expand” the MTA network, which moves 8.7 million riders each day, authority officials said in a press release.

The program’s largest element is $22 billion allocated for safety and reliability projects, including buying new subway cars, Staten Island Railway cars, commuter cars and buses; improving track, signals, power supplies, stations and support structures; renewing and enhancing seven bridges and two tunnels; and installing positive train control on commuter railroads and communications-based train control on subways.

In addition, the program proposes $4.3 billion for new technology, communications systems and railroad infrastructure. Moreover, it would help expand the network with investments such as $1.5 billion to begin the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway from 96th Street to 125th Street; $2.8 billion to complete funding for the East Side Access project that will bring the Long Island Rail Road into Grand Central Terminal; and $743 million to begin the Penn Access project to bring Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line service into Penn Station and build four new stations in the Bronx.

Since 1982, MTA has allocated more than $100 billion for its capital program to rebuild the network, which led to record ridership and spurred growth throughout the region, authority officials said.

“The MTA capital program is our single most important effort to ensure we can keep the New York metropolitan region moving, so people can get where they need to go, businesses can thrive and the quality of life here can continue to improve,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast.

MTA staff identified $16.9 billion in funding sources for the program, including more than $6 billion in federal funding, $6 billion in bonding and $3 billion in funding from MTA sources. The MTA plans to work with its funding partners and other stakeholders to develop proposals to bridge a $15.2 billion funding gap.

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Passenger Trains on NY City’s West Side Freight Line

Image1861. The Abraham Lincoln family pulled into New York City’s 30th Street Station at about 3:00 p.m. on February 19. 1865. Lincoln’s funeral train left on the journey from Washington to Springfield. That was the terminal for the Hudson River RR. When Vanderbilt bought it as well as the NY & Harlem RR, they built the connection between Spuytin Duyvil and Mott Haven and routed most Hudson River RR trains into Grand Central Depot.

The NYC&HR local passenger service was pretty much a connection at Spuyten Duyvil arrangement from the opening of the original Grand Central from the timetables I’ve seen ( See June 26, 1921 Employee Timetable). The opening of the Elevated reduced traffic considerably; the opening of the IRT finished off most ridership; the trolley and El, Trolley/IRT was quite a bit cheaper. A Nickel could get you all the way downtown from 125th St (especially on the IRT) — without the change at 30th, for example.

Somewhere along the line, I had understood that this limited passenger service was eliminated in 1918 during WW1. However, that was a temporary measure as seen by the 1921 timetable. One mystery solved. Tommy Meehan sent me a newspaper article from January 13, 1918 that explains it to be only temporary.

There was a passenger train called the “Dolly Varden”, a local train leaving 30th Street station on the west side going to Spuyten Duyvil. “This train became such a symbol both to railroaders and West Siders that for years it was continued on the time-table after it actually ceased to operate.”

I don’t know for sure why NYC kept those passenger trains on the West Side up to the 1930’s, but there were probably several reasons:
1. To carry employees down to 60th and 30th Streets, at least until the subway was put into service.
2. NY State Public Service Commission would not approve discontinuance.
3. Some U. S. Mail might have been handled locally, and maybe some company mail.
4. After they quit hauling passengers, and even into Penn Central, there were first class trains running between 30th St and Spuyten Duyvil for mail and express. No’s. 3 and 13 went to Chicago, and the 800 series trains ran to and from Harmon with head-end traffic to and from the west.
5. To preserve the franchise for passengers on the West Side. From a story that was in the June 15 1931 edition of the New York Times. The occasion was the final use of steam on the line. The final paragraph mentions the West Side passenger service, though it doesn’t seem very accurate. It sounds like what the reporter actually saw was a milk transfer run with a rider car attached for the crew. I do believe it is accurate insofar as the Tri-power units were probably used to haul the passenger trains. I’d be very surprised if they used MU cars, even to tow them, but of course it’s possible.

From a September 2007 discussion in TRAINS Magazine:
Daily except Sunday in 1934,
lv 30th St (0.00 miles) 0700
pass 60th St (1.66) 0715
depart 130th St (5.24) 0726
depart 152nd St (6.31) 0731
depart Fort Washington (7.48) 0737
depart Inwood (9.08) 0742
arrive Spuyten Duyvil (10.06) 0747 and the other three trains are similar.

Read a whole lot more on the West Side Freight Line.

 

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.”

 

Our New York State Tourist Page

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YES! Traveling to New York State? Check out our New York State Tourist WebSite.

We just added some new and interesting things about Albany. Start with a story about how bobsledding originated in Albany. Makes it the only Olympic sport started by the USA. The pictures above are from Albany too:

Spuyten Duyvil Metro-North Railroad Accident: “Are We There Yet?”

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Been a week since this trategy and a lot has happened.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation continues but shouldn’t be too long before publishing. It is unlike the Canada process (that recent oil train iwreck n Québec) which usually takes a year.

U.S. transportation officials ordered the Metro-North Railroad on Friday to quickly overhaul its signal system and temporarily put an extra worker in the driver’s cab on some routes that have major speed changes, including the one where a speeding commuter train derailed this week, killing four people

The emergency order by the Federal Railroad Administration was a reaction to Sunday’s wreck in the Bronx, where a train flew off the tracks after hitting a curve at 82 mph, nearly three times the 30 mph speed limit. The lone train operator told investigators he nodded at the controls and didn’t apply the brakes until it was too late.

The order gives the railroad until Dec. 31 to provide the Federal Railroad Administration with a plan and target dates for modifying the existing signal system so that trains will automatically slow down in places where the speed limit drops by more than 20 mph.

Until those signal changes are made, the order will require the rail line to put at least two qualified workers in the operator’s cab on sections of track where speeds vary.

On some routes, this may mean that a conductor can head to the cab and accompany the engineer for a few minutes when the train is approaching a slower zone. On others, there will have to be an extra crew member who makes the whole trip because the operator’s cab is not accessible from other train cars.

The extra workers will be required until the railroad upgrades its existing signal and automatic control systems in a way that will deliver “adequate advance warning” of speed restrictions, federal officials said.

On Wednesday, three days after the Manhattan-bound Hudson line train tumbled off the rails in the Bronx, killing four people and injuring more than 70, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that an alerter system had been installed in the locomotive pushing the train, but not in the front cab, where the engineer was positioned, properly, at the time of the crash.

The train was in a “push-pull” configuration, common on Metro-North. In such arrangements, trains are pushed by a locomotive in one direction and pulled in the other.

The authority said a “push-pull” model kept the noise and exhaust of a locomotive as far as possible from the halls of Grand Central Terminal, though diesel trains typically switch to an electric mode as they approach. There is also generally no way for trains to turn around there, the authority said.

The alerter system sounds an alarm after 25 seconds of inactivity, and applies the brakes automatically if an engineer does not respond within 15 seconds.

It is not clear how long before the crash Mr. Rockefeller became inattentive, or whether the alerter system could have prevented the derailment or reduced its severity. It appears likely, though, that if Mr. Rockefeller had experienced a similar episode for an extended period on a northbound trip — when he would have been stationed in the locomotive — the siren might have sounded. In effect, trains configured and equipped like the one in the derailment employ the “alerter” system on only half of their runs.

While much of the safety discussion since the crash has focused on an expensive control system that remains years away from reality for the transportation authority, rail experts have said that a number of lower-cost remedies could have been put in place — and should be in the future — both inside the train and across the system governing it.

The derailment was the deadliest in New York City in more than two decades, prompting a federal investigation and leading local authorities and prosecutors to collect evidence for a possible criminal investigation into the actions of Mr. Rockefeller, who has been suspended without pay.

One potential safety improvement would be ensuring that the alerter systems were installed in every cab. The authority had said that new cars would include the systems in all cabs.

Other improvements could involve a modification of the existing signaling system in which coded electrical pulses sent through the rails are picked up by the trains and displayed as signals in the engineer’s cab.

The signals tell the engineer how fast the train can go, and if they are ignored, the system warns the engineer and if necessary can “dump” the air from the brakes, stopping the train.

In the meantime, things are returning to normal. Passenger service is back to regular strength and freight has resumed. Usually, a south-bound freight brings fruits, vegetables and stuff like that into New York. Finally got to run Thursday. It was 125 cars long. The longest freight train into New York City in recorded history. About 8 locomotives.

Trust for Public Land to plan conversion of railroad track into Queens Highline

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Engineers, architects and planners are about to spend the next year figuring out whether 3 1/2 miles of abandoned railroad track can be transformed into Queens’ version of the High Line. In case you missed it, the old New York Central West Side Freight Line was “transformed” into the High Line.

The experts will perform engineering studies to test the deteriorating track beds, which have been abandoned for more than 50 years; they’ll meet with residents and merchants, and they’ll determine whether the massive project is workable as they develop plans.

Two city-based firms — WXY architecture + urban design and dlandstudio — edged out a field of more than two dozen applicants for the right to envision the park, which would run along the old Long Island Railroad Rockaway Beach railroad tracks from Rego Park to Ozone Park.
It is 3 1/2 miles long and would become a biking and walking trail.
While it would involve the neighborhood and has a lot of local support, a lot of people think the rail line should be re-activated and provide better transportation to New York City.
The Long Island Railroad Rockaway Beach Branch diverged from the LIRR’s Main Line in Rego Park at about 66th Avenue at what was called Whitepot Junction. It ran south through the neighborhoods of Middle Village, Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Howard Beach, across Jamaica Bay and through Broad Channel, and on to the Rockaway Peninsula, where one spur continued east and rejoined the LIRR in Far Rockaway, and the other went west and dead-ended at Beach 116th Street at the Rockaway Park station.
There was a plan to attach the LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch line to the IND subway. However, the Depression forced the IND to shelve that plan…but not before installing signage in some of its stations pointing to a Rockaway connection that was never built!
Frequent fires on the wooden trestle crossing Jamaica Bay impelled the LIRR to close the old line. It was purchased by New York City, which rebuilt the tracks and began subway service to the Rockaways in 1956.
The northern end of the line above Liberty Avenue remained in service until 1962, when declining patronage convinced the LIRR to close it down.

Massachusetts Governor and Staff Look at Housatonic Railroad for Passenger Travel

ImageView of the railroad going through the village of Housatonic.

The stations are circled. The left one is the passenger station, the right is the freight station.

Massachusetts officials are considering a proposal to return passenger-rail service to the Housatonic Railroad.Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard Davey and other MassDOT officials joined Governor Patrick  for a 37-mile tour to observe the line’s condition in key areas.

The Housatonic Railroad, which runs from Pittsfield to Sheffield at the Massachusetts-Connecticut state border, currently is used for freight service between Pittsfield and points south into Connecticut. A proposal to return passenger-rail service to the 90-mile corridor between Pittsfield and Danbury, Conn., has been discussed for the past several years. In Danbury, riders could connect with Metro North Railroad and reach New York City.

Restoring passenger-rail service would cost about $113 million for track rehabilitation, signal system installation, grade crossing improvements, and construction or reconstruction of six stations along the corridor within Massachusetts, administration officials said.

Although Massachusetts could afford the investment on its end, Connecticut also would have to commit to sharing in the cost in order for passenger service to reach New York City, Patrick said after the tour, according to local news media reports.

In January, MassDOT received federal highway discretionary funds to support a station location and design analysis study for passenger service.

 

Inaccessible New York: Behind The Scenes At Grand Central Terminal « CBS New York

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Evan Bindelglass, CBSNewYork.com     Check this great article on Grand Central  out!

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As we continue our tour of spots in New York that are off limits to the general public, what better place to profile than the Grand Central Terminal, which just celebrated its centennial.

Grand Central Terminal is the world’s largest rail terminal. It covers 49 acres, going from 42nd Street all the way up to 97th Street, with Park Avenue essentially built on much of its roof.

It’s among the six most visited sites in New York City. Every day, 750,000 people go through Grand Central, but about 200,000 of them don’t ever board a train. Many people just go there for lunch or a tour – but not like this one.

Metro-North Railroad’s Dan Brucker served as tour guide.

Here are some of the sites in Grand Central they saw:

EASTERN CATWALK

People will immediately recognize the massive arched windows on the east and west sides of the main concourse. Running behind those huge windows are a series of catwalks at various levels, mostly for maintenance (and the odd lucky journalist).

SKYLIGHTS FROM ABOVE

Among the beauties of Grand Central are the various bare-bulb chandeliers. Here are the chandeliers along the south side of the main concourse, hanging below skylights.

METRO-NORTH MASTER CONTROL ROOM

It is from this room that the entire railroad is kept on track. Brucker said the people in this room know where every single piece of equipment is. If a train has a maintenance issue is, they know exactly where to find its replacement.

TIFFANY CLOCK

Behind master control is a series of ladders and narrow passages that lead to a one-of-a-kind work of art and time-keeping.

It looks great from the outside, but stepping inside it was like something out of the movie “Hugo.”

M42 SUB-BASEMENT

190 feet below the lower level, which is itself three stories below street level, is a space that you won’t see on any map. It’s called the M42 sub-basement.

During World War II, from end to end of a space the size of the main concourse, were massive AC to DC rotary converters which provided power to the terminal.

This power station was vital to the war effort and were it taken out, it would have crippled 80 percent of troop and materiel movements in the northeast.

LOST AND FOUND

According to Metro-North Railroad, their lost and found is the most successful lost and found in the world. They have an 80 percent return rate.

Hurricane Sandy and South Ferry Subway Station

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Sandy damaged the New York City subway worse than anything else in its 108-year history, flooding eight tunnels and shutting service for millions of commuters. Recovery efforts began even before the storm was over, and extraordinary work by New York City Transit brought lines back into service rapidly.

Yet while the subway seems back to normal for most of the 5.6 million daily riders, the damage behind the scenes remains extensive – nowhere more so than in the South Ferry electrical room.

Soon after South Ferry was pumped out and drained, crews removed hundreds of relays and tried cleaning them by hand to return them to service – a task that turned out to be futile, as seen by heavy corrosion marks visible on the banks of relays.

On Friday, March 8, 2013, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that 1 Line icon train service will return to one loop platform of the storm-ravaged South Ferry subway station in the first week of April, making commutes easier for more than 10,000 daily riders at the southern tip of Manhattan while a full rebuilding continues.

“The MTA has a long, tough job ahead as it tackles the immense job of virtually rebuilding the new South Ferry terminal station that was flooded 80 feet deep during Superstorm Sandy,” Governor Cuomo said. “For the extended period of time it will take for this work to be completed, we are returning the old station in the complex to service, making travel easier and more convenient for Staten Islanders and others who work and visit this area.”

Sandy’s storm surge sent a torrent of salt water into the South Ferry station on October 29.  Some 15 million gallons of water filled the area from the track level to the mezzanine, destroying all electrical and mechanical systems and components and rendering the station unusable. As a result, 1 Line icon trains now terminate at Rector Street, a major inconvenience for thousands of daily commuters and sightseers.

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Faced with an estimated two-year timeline for restoring the new South Ferry station, MTA New York City Transit studied the former loop station directly above it which served South Ferry until 2009. The station is on a sharp curve and requires moveable platform edge extenders to bridge gaps between the platform and the cars, and it can accommodate only five cars of a 10-car subway train.

The authority said a decommissioned station had never been reopened in its history.

“We didn’t think that was even an option,” Carmen Bianco, the authority’s senior vice president for subways, said of reviving the old station. “But you start exploring, ‘Well, what other options do we have?’ ”

As recently as January, officials said, the prospect still seemed remote. The station is not merely old — it opened in 1905 — but antiquated even by mid-20th century standards. While many stations were enlarged in the 1940s and 1950s to accommodate 10-car trains, the length and configuration of the South Ferry platform prevented any change, allowing only passengers in the first five cars to exit.

The quirk survived until 2009, when a glossy new station replaced the old one at a cost of over $500 million. The authority has estimated the new station will cost $600 million to rebuild.

Though the agency has occasionally used the old station’s loop track for work trains — and as a turnaround point for No. 1 trains since the storm — the station itself has been almost entirely ignored.

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Metropolitan Transportation Authority Snow Removal Trains

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How does New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority clear its train tracks? Twelve-year olds with shovels just aren’t as efficient as the MTA’s specialized snow removal locomotives:

Over the summer, the railroad’s three jet-powered snow blowers were completely rebuilt.  Each received a new Cummins diesel engine (for traveling over the rail) and a new, high-efficiency, Rolls Royce Viper aircraft turbine engine for melting snow.   The engines produce exhaust that’s 600 degrees Fahrenheit, which virtually vaporizes snow.

“If the jets do the job right, all you see is steam coming off the steel,” said Peter Hall, Foreman of the Maintenance of Way Equipment Shop in North White Plains.  “They produce 2,500 pounds of thrust, which makes them very good at getting under heavy, wet slush, ice and crusty snow.”

The Rolls Royce turbines use half the fuel of the engines they replace, 1950s-era General Electric/Westinghouse J57 turbines that were used in B-52 bombers.  The Vipers burn about 100 gallons of kerosene per hour at 70% capacity – the optimal level for fuel efficiency.

“With fuel tanks that hold 1,800 gallons, these new jet blowers can run continuously without having to stop to refuel in the middle of a storm,” Hall said.