For four consecutive weeknights hundreds of New York Metropolitan Transit Authority workers labored through the late night and early morning hours cleaning, inspecting, repairing and replacing subway infrastructure on a nearly seven-mile segment of the Lexington Avenue Line.
Jobs that would usually take weeks or months to complete were accomplished in days because, for the first time, maintenance workers were allowed to perform their tasks without the interruption of passenger trains rolling through a massive work area that stretched from Grand Central-42nd Street to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
MTA New York City Transit’s new FASTRACK initiative is an entirely new way to perform subway maintenance in the system completely suspending train service over a segment of a subway line, giving workers uninterrupted access to tracks, signals, cables, lighting, third rail components and platform edges. During the four-night period, more than 300 vital tasks were completed, from rail replacement to roadbed cleaning to the scraping and painting of ceilings over tracks and platforms. Much of this work had not been performed in several years and some of it could only be done in the absence of trains over an extended period of time.
Three work trains supported nearly 70 work crews from several divisions within the Department of Subways. Work was performed in the stations along the line segment, as well as the tunnels and even into the Joralemon Tube that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan.
In the planning for upwards of three months, the result was a seamless effort that saw maintenance workers specializing in different disciplines working to complete jobs and make improvements that customers would notice by the time service was resumed on the 4, 5 and 6 line for the next morning’s rush period. Workers cleaned and replaced lighting fixtures, scraped dry mud from the roadbed while also removing trash and debris, as well as inspected and performed preventative maintenance on components crucial to providing safe and reliable service. They also scraped peeling paint from station ceilings and painted station areas. Rails were replaced in several areas along with a heavily utilized track switch just north of the Brooklyn Bridge Station.
Work also included inspections of equipment along the tracks; scraping and bagging of debris; replacement of tie and rail fastener plates; scraping and painting rubbing board and columns within station limits; cleaning of stations (mobile wash); cleaning of drains; and routine maintenance and performance testing of signals. All work was wrapped up and service restored to customers by 5 a.m. each morning.
The next FASTRACK overnight closure will be on the Broadway/Seventh Avenue 1, 2, 3 line between 34th Street and Atlantic Avenue from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for four consecutive nights beginning Monday, February 13 and ending at 5 a.m. Friday, February 17.