Siemens lands PATH CBTC contract

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

Another New York Metropolitan Area transit agency has embarked on resignaling its rail rapid transit system with CBTC (communications-based train control), with Siemens as the prime supplier.

PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson), which debuted in 1908 as the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad, has awarded the Siemens Team consortium, which consists of Siemens Transportation Systems, Safetran Systems Corp. and D/A Builders, LLC, a $321 million contract for a radio-frequency-based CBTC system. A $21 million professional management contract was awarded to Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. to help oversee the project. Additionally, a $2 million contract was awarded to Rail Safety Consulting, LLC, which will provide independent assessment and certification of safety standards. PATH has named its system ATC (Automatic Train Control).

The PATH contract follows MTA New York City Transit’s Canarsie Line CBTC pilot program. NYCT awarded Siemens a “Leader” contract for that project; Thales (at the time, Alcatel) was awarded a “Follower” contract. Ansaldo STS USA (at the time, Union Switch & Signal) was awarded a contract to install an underlay cab signal system. NYCT’s intent was to develop standards for itself so that any train control supplier could participate in the agency’s multi-year, multi-billion-dollar program to migrate all 650-plus track-miles of its network to CBTC.

In PATH’s case, its system, at 43 track-miles, is small compared to NYCT’s, so the Siemens Team has the entire contract. The overall signal project is expected to cost $580 million and is a major part of the Port Authority’s $3.3 billion plan to modernize the entire PATH system. This initiative also includes a new, 340-car PA-5 railcar fleet from Kawasaki Railcar, and expanded 10-car platforms on the Newark-World Trade Center line.

PATH operates four terminals—Newark, World Trade Center, 33rd Street (Manhattan) and Hoboken—13 stations, and four core weekday services—Newark-WTC, WTC-Hoboken, 33rd Street-Hoboken, and 33rd Street-Journal Square (Jersey City)—with shared track. The CBTC system will be deployed in sections; much of the legacy automatic block system with mechanical trip-stops will, at least for a time, be retained as a fallback, and as a means to operate non-CBTC-equipped railcars. Onboard CBTC equipment will be installed inside 130 PA-5 cars equipped with an operator’s cab; these cars, like NYCT’s R-142 and R-160 cars (supplied by Alstom and Kawasaki) have been designed and built “CBTC-ready.”

PATH’s ATC project is slated to start later this year, with design and field assessments made next year. Equipment installation is expected to be under way by 2011, with testing of the new system in 2013. The legacy signal system will be removed as the new system becomes operational, with the project slated to be finished in 2017, “though ongoing logistics coordination must be managed carefully to ensure that date is met, given all of the other upgrades going on concurrently inside the PATH tunnels,” the agency said.

Interestingly, since some of its right-of way (specifically, the Newark-Journal Square portion) is adjacent to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and Conrail Shared Assets freight trackage, PATH falls under Federal Railroad Administration jurisdiction. As such, its ATC system must meet the requirements of the FRA’s mandate for Positive Train Control, even though its trains do not share trackage with Amtrak, NJ Transit, or Conrail trains.

PATH trains transported nearly 75 million riders in 2008. CBTC, along with other improvements, “is designed to add up to 20% percent capacity to meet the system’s future peak-time demands, in addition to increasing safety and reliability while reducing ongoing maintenance costs,” the agency said. “Relying on obsolete components has made it difficult to obtain spare parts, resulting in rising numbers of repairs, costs and service delays.”

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