PTC, Penn Station, and Fordham revenue sharing, all in a New York Note

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NEW YORK — Operational changes and positive train control issues were discussion topics at a recent joint meeting of Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road committees. Specifically:

● The Long Island Rail Road revealed changes for its New York Penn Station Lower Level Concourse; a previous joint NJ Transit/Amtrak announcement of reworked space on the Upper Level had been made earlier in February. When Amtrak moves into the Moynihan Station one block west, The Long Island Rail Road will welcome its trains and the new Metro-North Penn Station Access Service trains with a wider main concourse, almost doubled in width from the present one, more attractive stores and dining, a new entrance at Seventh Avenue and West 33rd Street, and video monitors scattered over the concourse to inform travelers and prevent bunching in departure areas. The estimated almost $600 million project will be paid for by a combination of New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York State funds.

● A new Long Island Rail Road mid-day Storage yard, to be part of Sunnyside Yard in Queens is 50 percent completed, says Janno Lieber, MTA Chief Development Officer at the meeting. This will be to the north of the current Amtrak and NJ Transit yard at Sunnyside, and will be used for servicing and storing all Long Island Rail Road trains. The new facility will have pedestrian bridges to enable crew access to a new crew building, located on Northern Boulevard, a main thoroughfare in Queens.

● MTA Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi says that effective ‪Sunday, April 14‬, Metro-North is opening New Haven Line trains for travel between Fordham and Manhattan. This will mean an additional 96 weekday trains for travel between the two stations, doubling the existing service of 93 daily Harlem Line trains, with 67 New Haven Line trains on Saturdays and 65 on Sundays. A completed $15-million upgrade to the Fordham Station with a widened platform and new entrances made this possible. A restriction that prohibited ticketing this segment was eliminated by Rinaldi, who authorized the change after discussing the matter with Connecticut Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti; revenue from the sale of train tickets between Fordham and Manhattan, which previously had gone entirely to Metro-North, will now be split between Metro-North and the State of Connecticut.

● Positive train control was addressed by the MTA board with the representatives from Bombardier as well as three from Siemens; one, Lee Sander, President of the Americas for Bombardier had been a past MTA executive director from 2007 to 2009. The reason for both vendors to attend was that both Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road arranged for the two companies to cooperate as a consortium. With a PTC revenue service demonstration on only one LIRR line by the end of 2018, the 50-minute panel discussion was a combination of vendors admitting they had unrealistic completion timelines for the first and third largest commuter rail lines.
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