MTA grills vendors on PTC equipment issues

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NEW YORK — Metropolitan Transportation Authority Patrick Foye said Monday that installation of positive train control on the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road is being delayed by “an appalling industrial performance” by a key vendor, setting up a grilling of representative of two vendors at the Metro-North and Long Island committee meeting.

Almost 40 minutes of the two-hour meeting were devoted to the questioning of representatives of suppliers Siemens, which had four members of its management present, and Bombardier, which had two managers on hand.

The committee meeting book had, as part of a 17-page update on PTC for both railroads, noted quality control concerns with some on-board components could affect 1,200 locomotives and control cars across both commuter railroads, as well as the ability to complete full PTC implementation by the end of 2020. It also noted problems with current interlocking connectivity, Amtrak interoperability, and inadequate staffing for systems integration.

In February, more than 4,000 already-installed underfloor scanner antennas were found to be defective and were recalled. Last week, a test of newly installed equipment — meant to be a solution to the earlier problems — also proved to be defective. The culprit was a quality control issue because of a variable capacitor being improperly mounted in the assembly.

The Siemens representatives told the committee:

— The previous capacitor had been used in over 3,000 unit installations in 20 years; the new ones, coming from a different manufacturer used since 2017, had not been installed as extensively.

— Capacitors were soldered instead of bolted onto component boards, which gave improper readings.

— Facility understaffing created a quality control issue with repaired units.

With equipment deliveries delayed and production halted, the MTA demanded that, at the vendor's expense, an oversight monitor be placed at the Pittsburgh equipment manufacturing facility, with monthly visits by a joint Metro-North/Long Island quality assurance team to repair, test, and retune the undercar equipment units.

Siemens promised to add additional quality control personnel at the Pittsburgh plant, increase the number of manufacturing personnel, and allow for two daily shifts to better subcontractor oversight.

Bombardier’s representatives addressed the problems with the Long Island Rail Road’s Harold and Valley interlockings, in in Queens and Nassau County, respectively, as well as Amtrak interoperability. They expected new software updates should help, and that the next software issue in January should correct these issues entirely.

The Harold interlocking, which serves the Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit, and Amtrak, is the nation’s busiest, with 862 movements on an average weekday.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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