The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) released preliminary findings of the Train Speed and Safety Task Force that demonstrate subway train speeds on certain sections of track can be increased by as much as 50%. The task force initiated the study with engineering firm STV, with the help of Transport Workers Union, that remains ongoing but has already determined four core areas of focus that would lead to faster trains while prioritizing customer and employee safety.
The task force determined the following areas of focus to identify tracks where speeds could be safely raised: Reducing running times through straight tracks and interlockings, improving running times through curves, alleviating bottlenecks and fine-tuning schedules to optimize train movement, and updating speed signage to increase train operator confidence. The next step, MTA said, is for the task force to examine appropriate and safe speed limits using train operation testing in actual conditions to determine running speeds in different configurations.
The work examined stretches from 14th Street to 34th Street-Penn Station on the Seventh Avenue lines and in Manhattan to the 34th Street-Hudson Yards terminal of the Flushing line.
Under the task force’s preliminary recommendations, NYC Transit will coordinate with the TWU to ensure that mis-calibrated timed signal timers have been fixed and that operators will not be penalized. Final recommendations from the task force will be sent to MTA Chairman Patrick Foye for review and approval by the end of 2019.
“Our modern trains are better designed than our older fleet, and we have new tracks and continuous welded rail, better water drainage, improved electric service and interlockings, all of which means we can safely increase speeds beyond those set 20 years ago,” said MTA Managing Director Veronique Hakim. “Our work continues, and we are committed to drastically improving service and increasing the reliability of the system for all customers.”
“As a former federal regulator, I understand that the safety of the more than 5.6 million people who ride on North America’s largest mass transit system is of paramount importance,” said former U.S. Federal Aviation Administrator and task force chair Jane Garvey. “The goal of this study has been—and always will be—to increase reliability in the system, reduce running times, but all while ensuring that riders who rely on the subways will reach their destinations safely. I am extremely confident that the recommendations the task force is making today are a huge step towards achieving these goals and I look forward to continuing this important work.”