Transit Briefs: LIRR, Metra, WMATAWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) has completed New Hyde Park (N.Y.) station upgrades and removed three grade crossings as part of its $2.5 billion Third Track Project. Also, Chicago’s Metra is seeking rider feedback as it develops a new five-year strategic plan; and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) on June 16 returned to service eight 7000-series trains.
MTA LIRR’s $247 million New Hyde Park station project included:
• Three ramps and a pedestrian overpass at New Hyde Park Road.
• A new ADA-accessible pedestrian underpass at S. 12th Street, plus two ramps to each platform from the underpass.
• Platform replacement and expansion to accommodate 12-car commuter rail trains.
• New platform canopies, benches, shelters and signage as well as Wi-Fi and USB charging stations.
• CCTV security cameras.
• Digital information displays.
• New bike racks.
• A plaza with green space at Third Avenue, east of Baer Place.
• Addition of seven ADA parking spaces.
Native New Yorker Sandy Litchfield was commissioned by MTA Arts & Design and LIRR to create artwork in laminated glass for three of the station’s new platform shelters.
In addition to these upgrades, three highway/rail grade crossings near the station were eliminated, at New Hyde Park Road, South 12th Street and Covert Avenue. These are among the eight that have been eliminated overall as part of the Third Track Project, which is adding a third, 9.8-mile track from Floral Park to Hicksville, N.Y., to reduce train congestion and delays. Other major project elements include the new parking facilities, upgrades to railroad infrastructure and passenger rail stations, and other local improvements.
“The Third Track project team worked closely with the community and was able to upgrade the station, eliminate three dangerous, and delay-causing adjacent railroad crossings, and create public space for everyone to enjoy,” MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said.
“One of the main ideas of the Third Track project was to create a better customer experience for LIRR riders and this new station is another part of it,” said Catherine Rinaldi, interim President of MTA LIRR and President of MTA Metro-North Railroad. “Riders will be greeted by larger platforms, comfortable shelters and more room to move.”
“The MTA continues to make progress ensuring accessibility for all customers and the renovated New Hyde Park station is another example of that,” MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo said.
Metra commuter railroad in Chicago has launched a survey to get rider feedback on proposed revisions to its mission and vision statements and on agency goals. The information will be used this summer to help develop a new five-year strategic plan (2023-27). Metra plans to share a draft plan with its Board of Directors this fall and to offer opportunity for public comment. A final plan will be presented to the Board for adoption in early 2023.
The agency’s first strategic plan, covering 2018-22, was completed in 2017, “at a time when Metra was starved of capital funding to invest in its system,” according to the railroad.
“With the pandemic happening and greater funding options now available, much has changed in the public transportation environment since the last strategic plan was adopted in 2017,” Metra CEO/Executive Jim Derwinski said. “That’s why it’s more important than ever that we seek the input of My Metra riders as we plot our future course.”
Eight 7000-series trains have resumed service at WMATA and are running on the Green and Yellow lines.
The agency last year sidelined all 7000-series rapid transit cars—built by Kawasaki Rail and representing nearly 60% of its fleet—after an Oct. 12, 2021 derailment (see map above).
The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation is ongoing; it reported on Dec. 1, 2021 that work will “focus on failure analysis of the wheelsets, evaluation of the response from rail traffic controllers, internal and external oversight of the WMATA system, and identification of similar wheelset issues on passenger railcars.”
WMATA in April started reviewing key components of the 7000-series cars’ return-to-service plan with the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC). The plan—developed in accordance with WMSC’s Dec. 29, 2021 order—includes new inspection procedures and trainings to guide staff “to safely inspect and maintain the 7000-series railcars.”
Since May 19, WMATA has been “training inspectors on the required safety processes, which include daily back-to-back wheel measurements using a digital gauge,” it said. Additionally, a number of pre-operational test exercises have been conducted with inspectors “to ensure a smooth launch of the new process,” according to the agency.
WMATA is now working on Phases 2 and 3 of the return-to-service plan, which will require WMSC approval to incorporate the use of Automated Wayside Inspection Systems (AWIS) as part of the inspection process. The first system was installed at College Park, Md., in May.
WMATA said it expects to use the returned 7000-series trains to increase service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, “[o]nce railcar personnel have created a steady rhythm of inspections and consistently delivered eight trains for daily service.”