The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has completed putting in new expertise on the Lengthy Island Rail Highway that ought to make the transit system safer and assist the cash-strapped company keep away from fines for delays to the federally mandated upgrades.
The MTA introduced Wednesday that your entire railroad is now geared up with optimistic prepare management expertise, which MTA officers say will assist forestall trains from rushing, colliding or derailing. The MTA’s Metro-North Railroad now additionally has the expertise in place.
The completion of the venture — which comes earlier than a Dec. 31 deadline — follows years of delays, value overruns and botches within the design and set up of the expertise that hampered the LIRR from becoming a member of rail programs nationwide in getting optimistic prepare management, or PTC, up and working.
That historical past however, the enhancements imply the railroad is now “safer than ever,” LIRR president Phillip Eng mentioned in an interview.
“I do know that our clients not solely desire a dependable journey, however in addition they desire a protected journey,” Eng mentioned. “If [PTC] saves one life, it is well worth the effort.
“And it’ll save multiple life.”
A spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, which is monitoring the implementation of optimistic prepare management nationwide, declined to touch upon the MTA’s announcement.
PTC was ordered by Congress in 2008 — after a California prepare crash — to stop rail collisions. The system makes use of communications expertise put in on trains and alongside tracks to robotically decelerate or halt trains that violate indicators.
The Nationwide Transportation Security Board has mentioned, over the past 10 years, PTC may have saved the lives of at the least 60 folks killed in prepare accidents — together with 4 who perished in a December 2013 Metro-North Railroad derailment within the Bronx.
After spending years unsuccessfully petitioning for an exemption from the federal legislation, the MTA lastly employed an organization to hold out its PTC venture in November 2013 — 5 years after the federal legislation was handed, and simply two years earlier than the unique 2015 deadline.
Congress pushed that deadline again to December 2018, after which to December 2020, for railroads that had made enough progress.
The LIRR hit one other main snag final yr when its PTC contractor, a three way partnership of Bombardier Transportation/Siemens Rail Automation, revealed that it had recalled a whole lot of “undercar scanner antennas” put in on trains as a result of they weren’t correctly calibrated.
If it hadn’t completed the job by the yr’s finish, the MTA — which is going through a multibillion-dollar deficit due to pandemic-related income losses — may have confronted every day fines of as much as $28,000.
Carl Berkowitz, a Moriches-based railroad security professional, mentioned the set up of the brand new expertise was step towards making the LIRR safer, however extra might be performed.
“Any enchancment to the security of the system is sweet information, however that does not deal with the key issues of safety on the Island,” he mentioned, citing intersections of the LIRR tracks and native roads, and that stretches of the tracks usually are not lined by fences.
Berkowitz questioned what number of accidents PTC would have prevented on the LIRR in recent times.
MTA officers didn’t reply to the query.
The funds to put in PTC on the LIRR and Metro-North was $1.16 billion, $1 billion of which was lined by a federal mortgage, MTA spokeswoman Sarah Armaghan mentioned. She didn’t reply to a query concerning the authentic funds for the venture.
Newsday beforehand reported that PTC was costing the MTA about $1.15 billion to put in on the LIRR and Metro-North and is usually funded by a federal mortgage.
MTA chairman Patrick Foye final month instructed that a few of the hurdles encountered in the course of the venture have been the results of the federal authorities being overly inflexible in its requirement for a selected crash-prevention system — overwhelming the comparatively new PTC design and manufacturing business, and driving up prices.
With Alfonso A. Castillo