New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is set to introduce FASTRACK, a new way of working on the rails. Beginning Monday, January 9, the 4, 5 and 6 lines will be shut down from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., suspending all Lexington Avenue Line service between Grand Central-42nd Street and Atlantic Avenue in both directions for four consecutive weeknights.
Signals, tracks, tunnels, structures and stations must all be kept in proper working condition, an incredibly difficult task in a system where trains run 24 hours a day, every day. Providing maintenance for more than 2,600 switches, 12,000 train control signals, more than 700 miles of track and 468 stations is an enormous challenge. NYC Transit is taking a new approach to the performance of critical maintenance and upgrades. By shutting down a section of a subway line, work can get done efficiently at less cost and provide a much safer environment for its transit workers.
System-wide, NYC Transit’s weeknight ridership is approximately 250,000. The closures will affect from 10 percent to 15 percent of those riders depending on the line segment. While providing a safer work environment for employees who will no longer be sharing tracks with in-service trains, MTA also anticipates an annual productivity savings of $10 to $15 million. However, this is not a replacement for weekend work. Most weekend service diversions are due to capital work, which consists of major station and line rehabilitation projects, such as the Culver Line reconstruction, the West End Line rehabs and the rehabilitation of Dyckman Street and Smith-9th Sts. Weekend diversions will continue as before. In order to accomplish maintenance tasks four corridors have been chosen that begin at Manhattan’s Central Business District:
• Lexington Avenue 456 from Grand Central-42nd Street to Atlantic Avenue
• Sixth Avenue FDB from 59th Street-Columbus Circle to West 4th Street
• Seventh Avenue 123 from 34th Street to Atlantic Avenue
• Eight Avenue ACE from 59th Street-Columbus Circle to Jay Street-MetroTech
These corridors will completely shut down on four consecutive nights four times a year. Only subway line segments where there are substantial subway alternatives have been selected for the overnight shutdowns. So, in addition to nearby lines, there may be other lines running that don’t usually operate during the late night hours in order to help accommodate customers.
By providing a more productive work window, employees will be safer by not working on “live” track and will avoid the interruptions of repeatedly having to “clear up” for trains going by. Workers will inspect track, repair or replace rails and perform power and signal maintenance. During this time, repairs to platform edges, wall tiles and lighting in addition to power washing at some of the closed stations will be done.