MTA Completes Signal System Changes Ordered by FRA

Metro-North Railroad (MTA) has completed permanent changes to its signal system more than five months ahead of schedule. The changes were made to ensure automatic speed enforcement at five critical curves and five moveable bridges in New York and Connecticut.

MTA announced all the signal modifications ordered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) with a September 1, 2014 deadline were completed when the final work was done at the Devon Bridge in Stratford, Conn., last Thursday.

“The complete implementation of the requirements of the FRA’s Emergency Order 29, issued on December 8, 2013, brings us another step closer to a safer railroad, which is our number one goal,” said Metro-North president Joseph Giulietti. “We will continue to take all necessary steps to restore Metro-North to greatness.”

Changes to the automatic train control system at Spuyten Duyvil were begun days after the fatal derailment. Metro-North signal forces completed the modifications there on the same day the FRA issued the order. Signal system modifications were all completed by February 8 for the remaining four curves at Yonkers, White Plains, Bridgeport and Port Chester, ahead of the FRA March 1 target.

Work was then done to the five moveable bridges on the New Haven Line at Cos Cob, South Norwalk, Westport, Bridgeport and Milford in Connecticut. The fifth and final bridge at Devon was completed March 20, 2014.

Signal engineers designed modifications to the circuitry at each location by calculating where and when speed limits should be reduced, after which signal maintainers reconfigured wiring along the tracks that sends the signal to the train to control its speed. Extensive testing was then performed to confirm that the changes were working as designed.

With the new signal modifications, the signal display observed by train engineers in their cabs will automatically indicate reduced allowable speeds on the approaches to these 10 locations. If the speed of the train is not reduced, the train will automatically come to a stop.

The project was completed using Metro-North’s signal design and construction forces.