MTA gives preliminary approval of two CBTC contracts

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor
image description
MTA/Patrick Cashin

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) gave preliminary approval to two contracts totaling $205.8 million to Siemens Industry Inc. and Thales Transport & Security for the installation of a Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) signaling system on the Queens Boulevard Line.

The Siemens contract is for approximately $156.2 million; the Thales contract is for $49.6 million.

MTA says CBTC allows New York City Transit (NYCT) to operate more trains per hour, thereby increasing passenger capacity; provide improved and more reliable service and make more efficient use of its track and car fleet. MTA says the system is more flexible than the current block signals system because CBTC continuously updates train positions, distances and travel speeds, allowing for faster and more efficient operations.

MTA notes the installation of CBTC will keep the signaling system in a state of good repair and will also enhance safety for customers and employees. With CBTC, NYCT can program a work zone so trains cannot exceed a set speed, making the work zone much safer for workers on the tracks.

The signals system also can provide real-time travel information that can be shared with customers on public address systems and electronic screens such as countdown clocks or data-driven mobile apps.
CBTC will be installed on local and express tracks serving the E, F, M and R lines from north of the Kew Gardens/Union Tpke E and F station to north of the 47-50 Sts/Rockefeller Ctr station on the F and M Lines and south of the 50 St C and E station. It is the first phase in a project that will ultimately update the signaling system for the entire Queens Boulevard Line. QBL West Phase 1 represents a change from MTA’s other CBTC projects, which have been installed on single subway lines such as the L and 7. QBL West Phase 1 encompasses four subway lines with multiple train overlays.

“The communications-based train control signaling system is a vital part of our plan to address issues of overcrowding, record ridership and service delays,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Office Thomas Prendergast. “CBTC represents the MTA’s efforts to bring advanced technology to a century-old subway system that, in some parts, has not been updated in decades.”

Design work on QBL West Phase 1 is estimated to begin later in 2015, with major installation work estimated to start in mid-2017.
MTA also approved a separate $1.2-million contract for Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc. to develop and test CBTC software and systems with the goal of qualifying an additional supplier for future CBTC projects.