MTA Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi and Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng announced today that all trains on both railroads are operating in Positive Train Control (PTC), an advanced commuter rail safety technology being installed across the country. The completion of the federally mandated technology project comes in ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline — a remarkable feat given the scope of the project and challenges this year posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through Positive Train Control (PTC), LIRR and Metro-North trains automatically communicate in real time with central dispatching offices – sharing information on train position, speed and the actions of the locomotive engineer. If a train is traveling too fast, the system automatically takes control of the train to slow it down while alerting the engineer.
The system is designed to reduce the potential for human error to contribute to train-to-train collisions, trains traveling into zones where railroad employees are working on tracks, or derailments caused by a train traveling too fast into a curve or into a misaligned switch. It relies on a network of transponders spaced every one to two miles depending on interlocking density. Metro-North has 3,800 transponders and LIRR has 4,274.
All pieces of rolling stock, including revenue and work trains, have on-board computers. MTA staff and personnel from Systems Integrator Siemens and Bombardier have worked together around the clock for months to ensure the timely delivery of this system.
In several of the final steps toward reaching this milestone, the Long Island Rail Road on Dec. 5 achieved full interoperability with Amtrak, which runs in joint territory between Penn Station and Sunnyside, Queens. 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 December 3. Both railroads, in November, achieved safety plan approvals from the FRA and successfully continue implementation despite facing challenges, such as delayed delivery of system software earlier in the year and, and COVID-19 impacts since March.
The Long Island Rail Road’s 305 route miles that are fully operational with PTC include areas of switching complexes at Jamaica and at Harold Interlocking, which consists of a complex set of interlockings in Sunnyside, Queens, where LIRR meets Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor tracks for the connection to Penn Station.
Over 151,500 Metro-North revenue trains ran in full PTC mode from August 2019 – November 2020. The 244.3 total route miles of in full PTC functionality in Metro-North’s territory includes:
Hudson Line – 74.8 miles
- Harlem Line – 76.9 miles
- New Haven Line – 61 miles
- Danbury Branch – 24.2 miles
- New Canaan Branch – 6.3 miles
NJ Transit, which operates West of Hudson service under contract with Metro-North, is also operating in full PTC on the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis Lines.
PTC maintenance will continue, following completion on both railroads, to monitor reliability and safety as well as system software updates to make operational improvements and correct variances.
More information about how Positive Train Control works on the MTA network can be found in this video: youtube.com/watch?v=bIX9wWlY_wg
-via Press Release