Friday, February 07, 2014

PTC needs prompt PATH weekend closure

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PATH weekend train service between New Jersey points and downtown Manhattan will cease for 45 weekends during this year, in order to expedite installation of Positive Train Control (PTC), PATH and parent Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PA) said.

PATH hopes to meet the federal deadline of Dec. 31, 2015, for PTC installation. Some observers suggest the increased emphasis on installation results from the Metro-North train derailment last December, which killed four; Metro-North's lack of progress in implementing PTC subsequently became a political talking point.

The cost of PTC installation also reportedly has risen from an earlier estimate of $580 million, with estimates ranging from $10 million to $60 million in additional expense, local media report.

The closure also comes at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which lies immediately adjacent to PATH's World Trade Center Station, plans to open to the public in May. Weekday service, however, will offer museum visitors PAT access to the facility.

PATH officials say the tunnel closure also will aid repair efforts required from damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy in late October 2012; the tunnels will be powerwashed with a desalinization agent, while "intrusion detection systems" will be added to reduce the risk of (and impact of) future flooding. Closure also will allow continued installation of antiterrorism systems in the trans-Hudson tunnels.

PATH also hopes to expedite the modernization and automation of its signaling equipment with CBTC (Communications-Based Train Control), initially due for completion in 2017. The CBTC work is proceeding under a consortium led by the Siemens Mobility Division.