Metro-North Railroad celebrates its 40-year history of public service with a second rebranded locomotive; Bay Area Rapid Transit’s (BART) latest Quarterly Performance Report (QPR) shows major service reliability improvements with fewer delays; the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Operations Control Center (OCC) policies meet Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requirements for safety of the public and workforce; service on OC Transpo’s Ottawa LRT network resumes; Metrolinx announces e-scooter pilot program with SCOOTY Mobility; and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announces preliminary findings of internal investigation following Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) derailment.
Metro-North Railroad has rebranded a second locomotive with special colors and designs as a Heritage Series to highlight the railroad’s 40 years of service to the public.
Craft workers at Metro-North’s North White Plains Shop applied a vinyl wrap to Metro-North’s locomotive No. 201 that pays tribute to Conrail, the railroad which is Metro-North’s immediate predecessor. The train made its debut on the Hudson Line this morning, departing the Croton-Harmon station at 7:31 a.m., and arriving at Grand Central Terminal at 8:26 a.m.
In March 2023, Metro-North received special permission from Conrail to apply its colors, name and logo to one of its locomotives. The design of the wrap mimics the paint scheme applied to older FL9 locomotives that Conrail operated for the MTA over the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven Lines from 1976 to 1982.
Metro-North’s locomotive No. 201 is one of 31 P32ACDM models the railroad uses to provide service on the northern Hudson and Harlem Lines and the New Haven Line’s Danbury and Waterbury Branches.
The first rebrand in the series was locomotive No. 208, which made its debut in May. Craft workers at Metro-North’s North White Plains Shop applied the vinyl wrap with the colors of silver, blue and red to pay homage to Metro-North’s original design. The design was created upon the railroad’s founding in 1983 for the railroad’s historic FL9 locomotives and worn by them until the last was retired in April 2007.
Additional locomotives will be wrapped in the heritage liveries that were worn by predecessor railroads. The wrapped locomotives will remain in service for the foreseeable future.
“There is no better way to evoke Metro-North’s roots than to bring back some of the classic colors of our predecessor railroads,” said Metro-North Railroad President and LIRR Interim President Catherine Rinaldi. “We are proud of our history and looking forward to debuting the other Heritage Series-wrapped locomotives later this year.”
BART riders are experiencing far fewer delays, train breakdowns and canceled trips, according to the agency’s latest QPR.
According to the QPR, which will be presented to the Board of Directors at the Aug. 24 Board Meeting, Customer On-Time Performance for FY23 Q4 (April-June 2023) was 91%, up more than 12% from the previous quarter (January-March)
Canceled trains due to staffing shortages improved significantly as BART has hired more train operators. Only 2% of trains were not dispatched during the quarter with June cancellations totaling just over 1% of all dispatches. The previous quarter had 5.27% missed dispatches.
Timed transfers for the quarter improved from 52% to 80% and are trending up, according to the report. “Timed transfers are an important part of the customer experience as riders seamlessly transfer from one train to another to get to their destination on time,” BART said. “When northbound trains don’t line up at 19th Street and southbound trains at MacArthur, it delays riders.”
BART says it is working to make improvements on several other fronts, including doubling the presence of sworn officers on its trains, replacing every fate gate in the system with state-of-the-art units that will be much more effective at deterring fare evasion, and doubling the rate of deep cleaning for train cars. In addition, BART’s schedule will change on Sept. 11 with a service plan aimed at increasing ridership with a 50% increase in service on night and the end of 30-minute frequencies.
“Earlier this year, we vowed to address staffing shortages and to reduce the number of canceled trains by summer,” said BART General Manager Bob Powers. “The data shows BART has followed through on this commitment as we focus on improving the rider experience. Running clean and safe trains that are on time is the best way to rebuild ridership.”
MBTA shared this week at the Safety, Health and Environment Subcommittee meeting that all OCC employees have been in “sustained compliance with two policy changes that further ensure employees have sufficient time off to recover between shifts and are not dual scheduled for dispatcher and supervisor duties.”
According to MBTA, the policies close out two FTA findings issued in a Special Directive Letter on June 15, 2022. The reported that the finding on mandatory rest hours between shifts has been lifted, and the finding on eliminating dual scheduling for dispatcher and supervisor duties has also been lifted.
The changes to the OCC policies are part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to improve safety and security for both workers and riders. The MBTA is also working on 39 Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) to address broader and more long-term safety concerns in response to the FTA’s Safety Management Inspection issued in April of 2022. More information can be found here.
The new policies, MBTA says, are designed to “ensure that OCC employees have adequate time to rest and recover between shifts, which can help to reduce fatigue and improve safety.” The policies also “prohibit dual scheduling for dispatcher and supervisor duties, which can help to prevent conflicts of interest and ensure that employees are properly focused on their tasks,” according to the agency.
MBTA says it is confident that these changes have made the OCC “a safer and more secure workplace for both employees and contractors, as well as a safer and more secure transit agency for riders.”
“These are important milestones on our path to creating and maintaining a safe and reliable transit system,” said MBTA General Manager and CEO Phillip Eng. “A well-trained, rested, and fully certified workforce inside our Operations Control Center is an integral part of our commitment to deliver the service our riders deserve.
“We are committed to making the first public transit system the safest and most reliable one in the country. These changes are just one step in that process.”
OC Transpo’s Ottawa LRT network resumed this morning after nearly a month of full or partial shutdowns, according to a CBC News report.
According to the report, testing over the weekend was a success and confirmed the entire Confederation Line was once again ready to admit passengers, said Transit Services General Manager Renée Amilcar in a memo late Sunday afternoon.
This means that single-car trains will be in service from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair stations as of 5 a.m. Nine shorter single-car trains will arrive every six minutes at off-peak periods, according to the memo. Eleven single-car trains will run every five minutes during rush hour and 13 will run every four minutes during afternoon rush hour.
According to the CBC News report, the system was shut down on July 17 after a routine inspection uncovered an issue with a bearing on one of the trains. OC Transpo has said the problem was “similar” to what caused a derailment in August 2021 and a wheel hub failure in July 2022.
“Over the past few weeks, crews have been replacing wheel hub assemblies on the entire fleet of trains and readjusting restraining rails—which are intended to prevent derailments—located along the tracks to eliminate contact with the wheels,” according to the report.
Amilcar said in her memo that OC Transpo and consultant Transportation Resource Associates had “completed their final review of the documents” provided by Rideau Transit Group, the consortium that built the $2.1-billion line, which recommended Monday’s restart, according to the CBC News report.
Beginning Aug. 11, Mount Pleasant, Brampton and Bramalea GO Stations have become home to SCOOTY e-scooter rentals, providing customers with a new environmentally friendly option to connect to the GO network. The pilot program will operate until Dec. 31, 2024.
As part of the vision for GO Rail Station Access, Metrolinx says it “continues to explore new ways to connect customers and residents to GO stations, making it as easy as possible for them to access transit.”
SCOOTY Mobility is a GTA-based company that provides affordable access to electric scooters, with parking hubs located throughout Brampton.
As part of the Province of Ontario’s five-year e-scooter pilot program, the City of Brampton has approved e-scooters for personal use, allowing for the selected GO stations to offer SCOOTY e-scooter rentals.
MTA LIRR officials on Aug. 11 provided an update on the ongoing investigation into the Aug. 3 derailment of an eight-car passenger train east of Jamaica that resulted in 13 non-life-threatening injuries.
According to officials, the investigation indicates that the train, which was carrying 55 customers as it navigated a complex set of switches, known as Hall Interlocking, derailed after traveling eastbound over a switch intended for a straight move that was in fact misaligned for a diverging route.
Prior to the derailment, LIRR conducted a required monthly inspection of the switch, and it is believed that the switch did not properly realign upon completion of the inspection. This condition, MTA says, was not detected prior to the derailment because of a “previously unknown vulnerability in the switch’s wiring configuration, which resulted in the train dispatcher’s display showing that the route was properly aligned when it was, in fact, not.” MTA and LIRR continue to investigate the incident along with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
The first train to travel across the misaligned switch came through at 11:12 a.m. It was train number 722, which was the 10:43 a.m. departure from Grand Central Madison due to terminate at Hempstead at 11:37 a.m. Traveling 54 miles per hour with signals aligned for a straight route, the train was traveling six miles per hour slower than the maximum allowable speed.
Following the derailment, the switch was rebuilt and reconfigured to correct the wiring configuration issue. LIRR took immediate steps to ensure systemwide safety of the railroad by “immediately conducting thorough assessments of all 1,045 switches on the property and determined that this wiring and switch configuration was unique to this one specific location.” Enhanced routine inspection procedures were also developed and implemented because of the incident.
“Safety is the bedrock principle for everything we do at LIRR, and our core value as transportation professionals,” said LIRR Interim President and Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi. “This incident has exposed a unique and previously unknown localized vulnerability that has been rectified. This incident has prompted us to enhance our switch inspection processes to improve the safety of the railroad going forward.”
“The MTA is committed to the safety and security of our riders and employees,” said MTA Chief Safety and Security Officer Pat Warren. “We’re continuing to work with federal partners on a comprehensive investigation to understand exactly what led to the issue with this particular switch, and we will take the necessary steps to ensure that it never happens again.”