New York Awards Communications-Based Train Control Contract

Posted on November 29, 1999

In a much-anticipated move, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York awarded a $135 million contract to a consortium led by Siemens Transportation Systems-MATRA Transport International to install a communication-based train control system for the Canarsie Line of the New York City Transit (NYCT) system. The train control system is based on technology that Siemens-Matra has developed and installed on the Paris Metro Meteor Line, one of the most modern systems in the world. Team members Union Switch and Signal and L.K. Comstock will also play a major role in the implementation of the project. This technology offers the possibility of progressively automating lines without interrupting their operation. Indeed, its intelligence lies in the fact that it can integrate traditionally operated trains and automated trains equipped with the system. Another advantage of this system as shown on Paris’ Météor line is its modularity, since the system can adapt to all types of configuration, depending on the components of the network and the performance required. In New York, NYCT has chosen radio transmission and an automatic train control system with a driver. NYCT was involved in prototyping and evaluating three competing systems during the last two years before deciding on the Siemens-Matra technology. The process was very similar to that used in New York’s new technology railcar program, which procured more than a billion dollars of railcars to be delivered over the next several years. The new signaling system, which will be installed during the next four years without interrupting the revenue service of the subway system, will improve safety and increase train throughput of the existing New York subway, NYCTA officials said. Further, the technology will set the standard for modernization of the entire New York City subway network. "We are extremely proud to have been selected to supply this leading technology and to lead this train control revolution together with the NYCT in New York," said Roelof van Ark, president and CEO of Siemens Transportation Systems Inc. "This is our second major success in this region. Matra is already supplying the SACEM train control and signaling system for the Tren Urbano project in Puerto Rico, a $700 million turnkey project for which Siemens is a major contractor." This is the big Kahuna, however. Most observers estimate the New York signaling contract to comprise roughly half of the U.S. signaling market. Thus, the technology chosen by New York could very well become the signaling standard for heavy rail throughout the country. Furthermore, Siemens-MATRA now has contracts for modern train control systems in most of the major subways of the world, including Mexico City, Paris and now New York. Recently, Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway Corp. signed a contract with Siemens-Matra for the train control system on one of its lines. There were three companies competing for the work. Matra Transport International will use the standard Météor system to modernize the first line to be equipped, the Canarsie Line. This initial contract is worth $135 million. Alcatel and Alstom, the other finalists for this contract, are expected to be asked to adapt their products to comply with this standard, Matra officials said. The operating authorities of the metros of Berlin, Nuremberg and Singapore have also shown interest in the Paris Meteor-type communications-based train control system for modernization of their networks.

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