NYC Transit campaign to speed trains slowly progressing

Posted on January 22, 2019

NYC Transit has also now identified approximately 320 inaccurate timer signals, and has recalibrated 59 of them.
NYC Transit has also now identified approximately 320 inaccurate timer signals, and has recalibrated 59 of them.

MTA New York City Transit announced progress in the organization’s continued efforts to safely increase subway speed limits and move customers more quickly throughout the system.

In total since the summer of 2018, a safety committee has approved increases to speed limits at 68 locations, and the agency has implemented 24 of them. NYC Transit has also now identified approximately 320 inaccurate timer signals, and has recalibrated 59 of them.

Last week, workers bolted into a place a new speed sign at the City Hall station on the R Subway line, more than doubling the speed limit there from a system-wide low of six miles per hour to 15 miles per hour.

Increases like the one that went into effect last week at City Hall are part of NYC Transit’s ongoing Save Safe Seconds campaign, which aims to efficiently and safely reduce travel time for subway customers, by way of improving operating matters such as platform management and speed limits. This progress builds on similar improvements announced last month. Once implemented more widely throughout the system, speed limit increases could shave minutes off of commute times for many subway users.

To identify areas in the system through which trains can safely pass at higher speeds, a special team known as the “SPEED Unit” — which stands for Subway Performance Evaluation, Education and Development — was assembled in 2018. That group, made up of NYCT employees with various specialties and established in tandem with union officials, has traversed almost every mile of track over the last several months. The team conducts various tests to determine whether or not certain segments of track might be able to support higher speeds than currently permitted, without compromising existing standards for safety and passenger comfort.

In addition to testing for raising speed limits, the SPEED Unit is also tasked with testing the accuracy of speed regulating signals called "grade time signals" or "timer signals," with 95% of some 2,000 such signals tested since the initiative began in summer 2018. Approximately 320 faulty timer signals have been discovered, and 59 of them have been recalibrated so far in what amounts to very labor-intensive work to inspect, diagnose, and repair or replace numerous possible pieces of equipment during times of exclusive track access for workers such as weekends or nights.

The safety committee reviewing speed limit increases includes members of NYC Transit’s Office of System Safety, as well as other personnel who work on operations planning, service delivery, and track and signal maintenance and repair.

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