NY Metro: All Railroads Equipped with PTC

Marc A. Hermann/MTA New York City Transit

MTA Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi and Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng announced that all trains on both railroads are operating in Positive Train Control (PTC). The completion of the federally mandated technology project comes in ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline.

“There is no higher priority at the MTA than safety, and full PTC implementation brings our railroad operations to the next level,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye. “I thank Cathy, Phil and the incredible employees at Metro-North and LIRR who made this happen by the federal deadline in the midst of a global pandemic. This technology will prevent future collisions and ultimately help save lives across our more than 500-mile commuter rail systems.”

Through 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 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.

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.