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Speed Limit on NYC Subways to Increase as MTA Addresses Signal Issue

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New York City’s subway trains are about to start moving faster. An announcement is said to be on its way from the heads of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) saying just that. Faulty signal grade timer will no longer unnecessarily slow down trains. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

By: Jeremy Coolevitch

New York City’s subway trains are about to start moving faster.

No, really.

An announcement is said to be on its way from the heads of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) saying just that. Faulty signal grade timer will no longer unnecessarily slow down trains.

“They will include the A and C lines between the Lafayette Ave. and Liberty Ave. stations; the Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5 lines between the Nevins St. and Utica Ave. stops; and trains running on the B, D, N and Q lines over the Manhattan Bridge, sources told the Daily News.

MTA’s recently formed Train Speed and Safety Task Force is working to review “efficient and safe operating speeds in an effort to optimize both speed and capacity” in both subway and commuter rails.

The task force, which will be chaired by former Administrator of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Jane Garvey, will review the posted civil speed restrictions, improperly calibrated signal timers, and overall operations to ensure trains do not continue to operate slower than safety and best practice dictates, the group said.

The Train Speed and Safety Task Force will examine the problem of train slowdowns across the NYC Subway, Metro-North and LIRR systems, and review efficient and safe operating speeds in an effort to optimize both speed and capacity, according to the MTA. This will coordinate with the respective unions, Save Safe Seconds Transit effort, and PTC efforts at LIRR and Metro North.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, after discussions with labor union leaders, suggested the MTA convene the task force and address these speed-related problems, including restrictions and signal timer accuracy, in order to make improvements to the system.

“The task force will examine two related issues,” MTA explained in a statement. “First, what is the safe, efficient operating speed for trains in the system. The current speed limits were set over decades in an ad hoc manner and over time the train design and track geometry has changed. Second, the union representing train operators believes that timed signal timers are miscalibrated, causing operators to be wrongfully penalized and thus they operate trains below posted speed limits. The MTA has known that a number of signal timers are in fact miscalibrated.”

The MTA has been aware of these issues and NYCT started a speed review on portions of the system. However, according to John Samuelsen and Tony Utano from the TWU, train operators will not increase the actual speed of trains until they are sure that signals are recalibrated so that operators are not unfairly penalized. This new resolution will address the entire system and the operators concern in a comprehensive manner.

MTA Managing Director Veronique Hakim said: “I’m enthusiastic about this Task Force, that together with additional engineering resources and national safety experts, will provide guidance on how to improve our customers’ daily experiences. Better service is what the new MTA is about.”

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