One of two Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) commuter lines reopened this morning following the crash that occurred Saturday night when a commuter train sideswiped a work train that was blocking the track. Read the complete story from NYDailyNews.com.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced April 24 that the Federal Railroad Administration has approved a loan of $967.1 million to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the improvement of the safety of the signal systems used by the MTA’s two commuter railroads, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad. The loan, which is the largest and lowest-cost financing for the MTA, will finance the installment of positive train control, a technology designed to remove the potential for human error that can lead to train-involved accidents.
“This loan is a dramatic investment in the MTA – one that will make trains safer for all riders on Metro-North and the LIRR,” Gov. Cuomo said. “With this infusion of funding, crews will be getting to work on individual cars and along hundreds of miles of track to install state of the art technology that can save lives. This loan could not have been possible without the hard work and support of U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg, and I thank them on behalf of all MTA commuter rail customers for helping us make this important advancement possible.”
MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast said, “We are delighted to have been able to work with the Federal Railroad Administration to make this historic, and extremely important award possible. The most important thing we do each day is strive to ensure the safety of our passengers, our employees, and the public at large. This award will help us enhance that effort in a very significant way.”
Positive train control is a technology that allows computerized systems to automatically control certain aspects of train movement. It is intended to prevent train-to-train collisions, trains accidentally traveling into areas where track workers are working, or derailments caused by excessive train speed or the movement of a train through an improperly aligned switch. The technology can address situations like the Spuyten Duyvil derailment in the Bronx, where a train was going faster than its maximum allowable speed. Congress mandated the installation of positive train control in 2008 for all commuter railroads in the U.S.
Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road are in the process of implementing the technology, which includes the installation of on-board components for 1,455 rail cars and transponders alongside 588 route miles of track. In November 2013, the MTA awarded a contract to a joint venture of Bombardier Transportation and Siemens Rail Automation to act as a systems integrator that will provide the design, furnish equipment and ensure that the system functions as intended. LIRR and Metro-North forces and some third party contracts will support installations of wayside, office, communications and on-board equipment. Installation of positive train control on Metro-North territory in the State of Connecticut will be funded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The loan is the largest to have been made through the FRA’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program and remains subject to MTA Board Approval on April 29 and final closing in May. The MTA will issue its Transportation Revenue Bond directly to the Federal Railroad Administration and will repay the obligation over 22½ years at a fixed interest rate of 2.38 percent. MTA’s Transportation Revenue Bonds are rated “AA-” from Standard & Poor’s, “A2” from Moody’s, and “A” from Fitch.
U.S. Rep. Charlie B. Rangel said, “Nothing is more important than ensuring the wellbeing of New Yorkers. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s commitment to improving safety measures on Metro-North and LIRR, so that all commuters in our great State can ride knowing they are in secure hands.”
U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel said, “MTA services are an indispensable part of my constituents’ everyday lives. Thousands of commuters rely on the MTA daily to travel to work, home or school. They expect – and should receive – a safe train ride. Implementing positive train control is a critical step making this expectation a reality. The tragedies that occurred at Spuyten Duyvil in 2013 and in Westchester earlier this year may have been avoided if this life-saving technology had been in place. While we cannot assuage the pain and grief that these accidents have caused, we can make every effort to create a better railroad moving forward. I applaud the DOT and the Federal Railroad Administration for recognizing the need for this technology in the MTA system, and am very pleased that all rail travelers can experience a safer ride.”
U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey said, “I’m pleased that MTA’s application to install positive train control technology has been approved by the Federal Railroad Administration. Securing this funding would help ensure that disastrous events like the December 2013 Metro North accident never happen again. Over the last year, I have worked tirelessly to highlight the need for additional resources to help commuter railroads install PTC, and I will continue to work with federal and state officials to ensure that MTA gets the resources it needs to keep its riders safe.”
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks said, I’d like to thank Governor Cuomo for prioritizing the modernization and improvement of the Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Railroad’s 1500 railcars and hundreds of miles of track along our country’s busiest commuter rail system. This unprecedented investment of nearly $1 billion in the LIRR and Metro will improve safety for riders public, transit workers for decades to come.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Israel said, “This federal loan is a vital step to improving railway safety. I applaud the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation on their hard work to secure this loan, and I will continue to fight for federal resources for critical New York infrastructure.”
The Long Island Rail Road is on pace to close out the year, once again, as the busiest commuter rail system in the United States — this time by a much wider margin over Metro-North than last year.
Transportation experts attributed the LIRR’s widening lead over its sister MTA railroad to the recovering economy, LIRR’s investments in service, and a spate of safety-related incidents on Metro-North.
Read the complete story at Newsday.
Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road won approval from a committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board of Directors on Monday, Nov. 17, 2014 to award contracts totaling $34.6 million for the purchase of inward- and outward-facing cameras in the cabs of their rail fleets.
A total of 2,064 rail cars and locomotives will be outfitted under the base, 36-month contract, which the full MTA Board will consider for approval on Wednesday, Nov. 19.
Read the complete story at Railway Age.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Blue Ribbon Panel studying safety and maintenance practices at its three railroads yesterday announced 29 recommendations to improve operations and safety.
Created a year ago after a series of safety-related incidents at MTA Metro-North Railroad, Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New York City Transit (NYCT), the panel identified Metro-North’s safety culture as an area of particular concern, noting the railroad’s emphasis on on-time performance did not leave employees with enough time to perform necessary track inspections and maintenance work, MTA officials said in a press release.
Read the complete story at Progressive Railroading.
The members of Long Island Rail Road General Committee of Adjustment GO 505 have ratified a new agreement with LIRR management by a 97 percent margin, General Chairperson Anthony Simon reports.
It is the largest margin of approval for a contract in the general committee’s history.
Simon also said the approval rate for the eight-union coalition withstood together in bargaining with the LIRR was 95 percent.
Simon thanked SMART General President Joseph Nigro, General Secretary-Treasurer Joe Sellers and Transportation Division President John Previsich for their financial and material support and counsel.
“This shows with the support of our International and our membership, there is nothing we can not accomplish. I thank President Nigro for giving me the opportunity to speak at the first SMART Convention and for recognizing our delegates and our members on LIRR,” Simon said.
“This truly shows the unity in our merged unions and what we can achieve standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity.
“A special ‘thank you’ goes to my entire committee for there tireless work in such a huge fight. My committee is the best committee I could ever ask for and I am very fortunate to have this team.
“To our members, I asked you to stand with me and trust me and said I would fight to the end to get them a contract they deserve and earned, and our members stepped up, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
“I will never stop fighting for the most professional and hard working members.”
The vote concluded more than four years of battling with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority during a difficult and highly publicized contract dispute.
The MTA had been seeking net zero wage increases, major pension reform, large health care contributions, work rule give-backs and excessive concessions for new hires.
The settlement provided in excess of 18 percent of compounded wage increases over six-and-a-half years. Certification pay was achieved in the amount of $10 per day worked as a conductor and a modest two percent health and welfare contribution was accepted, based on a straight week’s pay. Minor adjustments were made for new hires that extended their requirement to pay four percent toward their pension for five additional years and their current wage progression was extended by just two years. Not a single work rule was compromised.
After over four years of battling with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority during a difficult and highly publicized contract dispute, SMART Transportation Division members have prevailed on Long Island.
The MTA was seeking net zero wage increases, major pension reform, large health care contributions, work rule give-backs and excessive concessions for new hires, but SMART leaders on Long Island had a much different agenda. They were determined to fight for their membership to obtain well-deserved raises and provide modest compromises to help fund the MTA pension system and the New York State Health Insurance Plan.
Lead negotiator for the MTA unions, Transportation Division GO 505 General Chairperson Anthony Simon, was a man on a mission. Simon worked tirelessly in achieving the political support and history necessary to prepare for the battle of a lifetime for railroaders on Long Island through the use of two separate Presidential Emergency Boards. Achieving two labor-favorable boards was key in this long, down and dirty battle with the MTA. The unions on Long Island were days away from a strike that they were very prepared to implement if needed.
Simon and his committee stood toe to toe with the MTA in a fight that eventually required New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo to engage with Simon in unprecedented, overnight negotiations which, in turn, avoided a devastating strike on the busiest commuter railroad in the nation.
While things became heated and the MTA pulled out all the stops by utilizing the media against union workers, Simon continually pledged to the public through his own media outlets his loyalty and dedication to the riders of the system.
“From day one, we made it clear that labor did not want to inconvenience the public and did everything in its power to avoid a strike,” Simon said.
As frustrated as both union members and members in the community were becoming as the potential strike loomed, Simon and SMART leaders maintained the highest level of professionalism possible.
At the end of the day, a deal was settled that provided in excess of 18 percent of compounded wage increases over six-and-a-half years. Certification pay was achieved in the amount of $10 per day worked as a conductor and a modest two percent health and welfare contribution was accepted, based on a straight week’s pay. Minor adjustments were made for new hires that extended their requirement to pay four percent toward their pension for five additional years and their current wage progression was extended by just two years. Not a single work rule was compromised for anyone.
“I have been working under Anthony’s leadership since 2006 and have known him for over 20 years. He is an absolute tenacious leader who works harder than anyone I have ever met in my life,” GO 505 Vice General Chairperson Vinnie Tessitore said.
Simon and the entire SMART membership on Long Island Rail Road thank General President Joe Nigro and Transportation Division President John Previsich, along with their team, for their endless support through this process. The committee on Long Island Rail Road would also thank the entire SMART membership across the nation for their well wishes and support. The outcome of this labor dispute exemplifies what the labor movement is all about.
A tentative deal has been reached to avoid a strike at the nation’s largest commuter railroad, sparing hundreds of thousands of commuters the headache of finding alternate routes to and from the city, Gov. Cuomo announced Thursday.
The agreement, which still must be ratified by union members, settles a four-year contract dispute between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the eight unions that represent the Long Island Rail Road’s 5,400 workers.
Read the complete story at NBC New York.
NEW YORK – With a Long Island Rail Road strike potentially set to start Sunday, the unions and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority returned to the bargaining table Wednesday and talked for several hours without reaching a deal.
But both sides were set to work through the night remotely as they went off to hotels, and were set to return to the bargaining table at 9 a.m. Thursday (July 17).
Read the complete story at CBS New York.