NYMTA Commuter Railroads: 100% PTC Operational

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye (right), Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi and Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng announced Dec. 23 that the commuter railroads are operating in Positive Train Control (PTC) mode. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye (right), Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi and Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng announced Dec. 23 that the commuter railroads are operating in Positive Train Control (PTC) mode. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

Officials at New York MTA’s Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) announced Dec. 23 that implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) was complete, just ahead of the Dec. 31, 2020, federal deadline. They teamed with systems integrator Siemens Mobility and Bombardier Transportation on the project.

New Jersey Transit, whose epic struggle with the same task was widely reported, announced the completion of its PTC project on Dec. 17.

MTA committed $1 billion to the commuter railroads’ PTC projects, which rely on a network of transponders spaced every one to two miles (depending on interlocking density) as well as on-board computers on all revenue service and work trains. Metro-North has 3,800 transponders; LIRR has 4,274.

LIRR and Metro-North interface with Amtrak, NJ Transit, CSX and New York & Atlantic Railway, which requires interoperability.

LIRR’s 305 route-miles that are fully operational with PTC include major switching complexes at Jamaica and at Harold Interlocking.

Metro-North’s 244.3 total route-miles of full PTC functionality include the 74.8-mile Hudson Line, 76.9-mile Harlem Line, 61-mile New Haven (Conn.) Line, 24.2-mile Danbury (Conn.) Branch, and 6.3-mile New Canaan (Conn.) Branch. NJ Transit, which operates West of Hudson service under contract with Metro-North, is also operating in full PTC mode on the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis Lines. 

Among the LIRR and Metro-North PTC projects’ highlights:

• On Dec. 5, LIRR achieved full interoperability with Amtrak, which runs in joint territory on the Northeast Corridor between Penn Station New York and Sunnyside Yard, Queens.

LIRR President Phil Eng

• Metro-North completed New Haven Line boundary integration route testing, which was commissioned on Dec. 4, and activated software on the New Haven Line’s M8 fleet on Dec. 3.

• More than 151,500 Metro-North revenue service trains ran in full PTC mode from August 2019-November 2020.

• In November, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approved the safety plans for both commuter railroads.

Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi

“The fact that our team at LIRR delivered PTC, a crucial piece of safety for our customers and fellow employees, during a global pandemic is remarkable, and I couldn’t be prouder of their dedication and commitment to public service,” LIRR President Phil Eng said. “Fulfilling this mandate prior to the deadline is a testament to our workforce, our partners in labor and our collaborative success.”

“Metro-North’s completion of PTC before the December 31, 2020, deadline was an all hands-on- deck effort that spanned multiple departments across the railroad,” Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi said. “It represents a historic leap forward in the safety and reliability of the system, and I couldn’t be prouder of our team for achieving these milestones, despite supply chain and other challenges during the pandemic.”

Elliot G. (Lee) Sander, President, Americas Region of Bombardier Transportation

“We are proud of our partnership with the MTA and Bombardier’s role with Siemens Mobility in successfully implementing this new, innovative, federally mandated safety technology at two of the largest and most complex commuter railroads in the country,” said Elliot G. (Lee) Sander, President, Americas Region of Bombardier Transportation.

“We’re committed to providing the MTA railroads and all of our customers with technologies that result in safe, reliable and efficient transportation for their passengers.”  

Marc Buncher, CEO of Siemens Mobility in North America

“This milestone is a true testament of collaboration—Metro-North, Long Island Rail Road, Bombardier and Siemens Mobility worked together in order to achieve certification prior to the deadline,” said Marc Buncher, CEO of Siemens Mobility in North America.

“This intelligent infrastructure will benefit New York metropolitan passengers and should be seen as a highlight for the MTA in 2020.”

Federal Railroad Administrator Ronald L. Batory

Federal Railroad Administrator Ronald L. Batory added: “As FRA Administrator, it has been a privilege to oversee both Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad as they fully implemented FRA-certified and interoperable PTC systems on their required networks. I commend the perseverance and commitment at all levels of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in successfully meeting this important deadline.”

In May, 82% of Metro-North’s routes and 73% of LIRR’s routes were operating in PTC mode.

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