The MNRCC would like to praise the MNR on recent accomplishments that benefit the riders:
Re-opening of the West of Hudson line from Port Jervis
MNR brought back full train service to the Port Jervis Line on Monday, November 28 — a full month earlier and at a substantially lower cost than originally expected. In October, the Council was briefed by Bob Lieblong, Senior Vice President of Operations, on the progress of the restoration effort. At that time he anticipated completion of the single track by the end of the year and that it would probably cost between $30 and $40 million for the restoration work. While service has been restored, a few things remain to be completed such as installation of slope protection and new drainage and piping structures to help prevent future washouts on the track. All work should be completed by Spring 2012. The Council commends MNR on this impressive effort to restore service.
Quiet Car Program
The Council has been very supportive of the efforts to introduce “Quiet Cars” into MNR service (see previous story). Now that the pilot program on the West of Hudson line has been deemed successful and MNR has introduced “Quiet Calm-mute” on selected Hudson and Harlem trains, the Council is very encouraged. MNRCC Chair David Buchwald commented, “After years of advocating on behalf of riders for quiet cars, the MNRCC is very pleased that Metro-North has expanded its quiet car program. I believe that giving riders a choice in their commuting environment will make for a more pleasant traveling experience.”
Winter Weather Preparations
The recent announcement about MNR’s winter weather preparations is heartening indeed. According to the December 6th press release:
“To fight snow on the tracks and yards, the railroad added three new jet turbines to blow snow, two new cold-air snow blowing trucks and 150 modern switch heaters. Also on the shopping list were an additional front-end loader and a backhoe to better plow the tracks and access interlockings and substations.”
This action is good news in view of the problems from last winter’s storms. According to Bob Lieblong, MNR Senior Vice President of Operations, who briefed the Council last January: ” There were three major storms occurring on December 26, 2010, January 7, 2011, and January 11, 2011. The storm of the 26th produced from 12 to 20 inches of snow across the Metro-North service area. In the January 7 event, there were lesser amounts in New York City, but 12 inches of snow in Brewster and on the New Haven line. In these storm events, part or all of the Railroad was covered by snow rising above the running rail.” The December storm resulted in a shut down of the system and forced the Railroad to conduct a limited schedule for several days. The second storm on January 7 was not a major problem for the Railroad as the equipment held up well. However, the third storm took a devastating toll on the old New Haven line fleet which had been battered by the two previous weather emergencies. Fortunately, the arrival of the new M8’s over the next few years will utimately solve this problem.
Other precautions for this winter include door panels being sprayed with an anti- freeze agent; air brake lines are purged of moisture to prevent them from freezing; electric trains are fitted with special third rail shoes with holes in them to prevent snow from sticking; exposed shoes are treated with deicers; and exposed couplers are covered to keep snow out. Also, on the New Haven Line, bridge reconstruction between Southport and Bridgeport has been suspended for the winter so that there will be three tracks in service, thus providing more operational flexibility when it is most needed. Mechanics have winterized all rail cars to the fullest extent possible before the weather gets bad.