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New Safety Controls Will Be Installed At East End Train Stations

Publication: The Southampton Press
By Erin McKinley   Feb 20, 2013 10:10 AM
Feb 20, 2013 12:33 PM

To meet a new federal mandate, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will begin installing safety features on all Long Island Rail Road train tracks over the next two years as part of a new system that is designed to reduce the number of train collisions.

According to Salvatore Arena, a press representative for the Long Island Rail Road, which is overseen by the MTA, a trailer will soon be placed at the Westhampton train station to serve as an office for those employees who will be implementing and testing the new system, called the Positive Train Controls System, over the next three years.

Mr. Arena did not know the size of the trailer, which will serve as a headquarters for those installing the system on the East End, but said it will placed along the hedges in the Westhampton train station parking lot and is expected to remain there until 2015.

The Positive Train Controls System, or PTCS, requires the installation of sensors along the tracks that will allow computer operators to monitor the progress and speed of trains, and slow and even stop them when they are not operating properly or not in accordance with normal signals, according to information provided by Eric Weiss, a press liaison for the National Transportation Safety Board. The goal of the system, which must be installed on most passenger and freight train lines by the end of 2015 to meet the new federal guidelines, is to reduce the number of train accidents caused by human error.

As part of the new safety measures, which are being implemented after a series of head-on train collisions over the past several years that have led to numerous deaths across the country, sensors will be placed along the tracks to monitor when trains arrive at specific locations. If a train does not reach a sensor, or if it is traveling at a speed higher or lower than the sensor is accustomed, control room personnel are automatically notified of the problem. Those individuals will then attempt to contact the conductor and, if necessary, take actions to slow down and stop the trains to avoid collisions.

The implementation of the system, the costs of which were not released by MTA officials, is not expected to disrupt service on any of the local train lines, according to officials.

The MTA is in the middle of completing a multi-phase train bridge rehabilitation project in Hampton Bays. That $26.2 million project, which began in 2011 and calls for repairs to the North Road train overpass, as well as the Montauk Highway and Shinnecock Canal overpasses, will continue to force temporary lane closures on Montauk Highway and North Road, as well as disruptions to train service for the next few weeks. The work on Montauk Highway should be completed by the end of March, and the North Road bridge work should wrap up shortly after, Mr. Arena said.

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