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Rail News: Communication and Signal

MTA upgrades LIRR interlocking in Queens

The agency is now using a microprocessor-based signal system in the Harold Interlocking, the busiest interlocking in North America.
Photo – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has finished upgrading the signal system in the Harold Interlocking in Sunnyside, Queens.

A new microprocessor-based signal system is now in use for Amtrak and MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) trains. The system is designed to boost reliability and ensure trains continue to run even if problems arise, MTA officials said in a press release.

Previously, the routing of trains over all switches and tracks in the area was operated out of a single location. The new signal system has been split into separate locations throughout the interlocking. If a failure in one occurs, it's limited to that location and the small area it controls instead of the entire interlocking.

The signal upgrade clears the way for the start of the final East Side Access construction contract to start later this year.

As part of the East Side Access project, MTA is spending more than $1.5 billion in the Harold Interlocking, which is the busiest interlocking in North America. The project calls for bringing LIRR service into a new eight-track terminal and concourse below Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

"When East Side Access goes into service, there will be for the first time an alternate route into and out of Manhattan for commuters, allowing Amtrak to fix the existing East River Tunnels that were badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy," said MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber.

The East Side Access is expected to become operational in 2022.