LIRR & Metro-North Post Best Ever Mechanical Reliability

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) achieved best mechanical reliability of its railcars since record keeping began and Metro-North Railroad achieved best ever mechanical performance of its railcars.

LIRR rail cars traveled an average of 208,383 miles between breaking down and causing a delay in 2015, more than 2,000 miles over the prior year's number and 18 percent above the railroad’s goal of 176,000 miles.

“There are many factors that can cause a train delay, from track conditions to problems at grade crossings to congestion from other trains,” stated LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski. “I am pleased to report that the LIRR is doing a better job than ever before in neutralizing the category of potential train delays that we have the most control over: problems with the trains themselves. Our all-time high performance in terms of rail car mechanical reliability is a testament to the hard work that our employees perform every day to keep our rail cars inspected and maintained in top condition, even as the fleet ages.”

Today’s mean distance between failures has risen from 50,000 in 2005 and from 150,000 in 2010. The LIRR credits the improvements to its successful adherence to its Reliability Centered Maintenance strategy, known inside the railroad as RCM, for the rise in mean distance failure. The strategy has led to dramatic improvements in train car reliability in recent years. Under RCM, all rail cars are slated for specific types of inspections and maintenance based on the intervals of time that have elapsed since each car’s last maintenance procedures.

“We’re constantly monitoring failures and conducting trend analysis on components and sub-components and adjusting replacement intervals,” said LIRR Acting Chief Mechanical Officer Craig Daly. “Our replacement intervals are continuously evolving in a dynamic way in response to our updated observations.”

“Our goal each day is to make sure that the railroad has the number of cars available for service to meet that day’s train schedule requirements,” Daly said. “Just in terms of the electric fleet alone, we need 862 cars in service for each morning rush hour, and 866 for each evening rush hour. I’m glad to say that we met or exceeded that requirement each calendar day in 2015.”

Three types of rail car equipment set new records for mean distance between failures in 2015. The M7 self-propelled electric coaches traveled an average of 488,470 miles between failures; the C3 diesel-hauled bi-level coaches traveled 120,652 miles; and the diesel-electric locomotives traveled 25,139 miles.

MTA's Metro-North Railroad cars averaged a distance of 199,838 miles before breaking down and causing a delay, the highest “mean distance between failures” performance since Metro-North started tracking the figure in 1989. In 2015, Metro-North rail cars traveled more than 50,000 miles over the prior year's number before reporting a breakdown, 8 percent above the railroad’s goal of 185,000 miles. The improvement in reliability is due to the use of improved car maintenance strategies and strong performance of a renewed rail car fleet.

Joint investments made through the MTA’s Capital Program and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) have brought the new M8 fleet of rail cars to Metro-North’s New Haven Line, replacing nearly all of the older M2, M4 and M6 rail cars. The M8s exceeded their mileage goal for the year by 2.4 percent.

“Now that the M8 cars have gone through the initial ‘break-in’ period, we have a chance to evaluate their design and performance in real-world conditions,” remarked Joseph Giulietti, Metro-North president. “We are very pleased that the M8 cars are exceeding their performance expectations. This is a testament to the years of work that went into designing and building these cars. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s also a testament to the strong partnership between the States of New York and Connecticut that led to the crucial capital investment needed to get these cars into service.”

Inspections and maintenance of all M8 cars are scheduled at 92 day, 1 year and 5 year intervals. The maintenance becomes increasingly comprehensive as the vehicles age. Metro-North has also implemented a Reliability Centered Maintenance strategy, which has maximized the M7 fleet’s availability.

“Although it’s been more than ten years, the M7s are operating as though they’re brand new,” said Metro-North Chief Mechanical Officer Michael Yaeger.

A good fleet and less need for repairs contributed to Metro-North’s system-wide on-time performance which totaled 93.5 percent in 2015, up two percent from 91.5 percent in 2014.