March 26, 2014

Metro-North completes fed-mandated signal system changes

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Metro-North Railroad completed permanent changes to its signal system to ensure automatic speed enforcement at five critical curves and five moveable bridges in New York and Connecticut, more than five months ahead of schedule.

With the announced completion of work at the Devon Bridge in Stratford, Conn., last Thursday all the signal modifications ordered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in December are now complete, well before the Sept. 1, 2014 FRA deadline.

“The complete implementation of the requirements of the FRA’s Emergency Order 29, issued on December 8, 2013, brings us another step closer to a safer railroad, which is our number one goal,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “We will continue to take all necessary steps to restore Metro-North to greatness.”

Signal engineers first designed modifications to the circuitry at each location by calculating where and when speed limits should be reduced. Then signal maintainers had to reconfigure wiring along the tracks that sends the signal to the train to control its speed. Extensive testing was then performed to confirm that the changes were working as designed.

The signal display observed by train engineers in their cabs will now automatically indicate reduced allowable speeds on the approaches to these 10 locations. If the engineer does not reduce the train's speed accordingly, the train will automatically come to a stop.

Metro-North Signal forces began work on changes to the automatic train control system at Spuyten Duyvil just days after the fatal derailment and completed the modifications there on the same day the FRA order was issued.

Signal system modifications for the remaining four curves at Yonkers, White Plains, Bridgeport and Port Chester were all completed by February 8, ahead of the FRA March 1 target.

Work then shifted to the five moveable bridges on the New Haven Line at Cos Cob, South Norwalk, Westport, Bridgeport and Milford in Connecticut. The “Peck” Bridge in Bridgeport was completed first in January, and the fifth and final bridge at Devon was completed March 20, 2014.

The project was completed using Metro-North’s own Signal Design and Construction forces.

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