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In the last two and a half years, MTA Metro-North Railroad has replaced nearly 98,000 ties as part of a systemwide track reconstruction effort. Crews also have laid 16.5 miles of continuous welded rails, rebuilt 88 switches, renewed or upgraded 32 railroad crossings, and performed 2,905 welds on joints that connect stretches of track with one another, MTA officials announced in a project update yesterday.
"The reconstruction work has significantly enhanced the state of our infrastructure," said Joseph Giulietti, president of Metro-North Railroad. "Our rails are safer today as a result of this concerted increase in track renewal work. This is a team effort that requires the coordination of dispatch operations and the dedication of our employees to be able to accomplish."The railroad's track reconstruction and renewal efforts have been guided by a spectrum of detailed track inspections, including track geometry measurements, detection of metal defects and fatigue by Sperry Rail Service, and identification of mismatched joint bars using Georgetown Rail Equipment Co.'s Aurora System.Meanwhile, Metro-North announced that it hired Justin Vonashek as its new vice president of system safety. In the role, he'll oversee all efforts to ensure safety of customers and employees as the railroad continues to improve work practices and invest in new technology and equipment, Metro-North officials said.
Reporting to Giulietti, Vonashek will work closely with MTA Chief Safety Officer David Mayer and MTA Senior Adviser of Corporate Safety Initiatives Anne Kirsch.Before joining Metro-North, Vonashek served as chief officer of safety, security, emergency preparedness and regulatory compliance at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's commuter-rail system.Vonashek began his career at Metra in Chicago in 2005, where he served as transportation specialist responsible for ensuring the safe and efficient operation of trains. He received various promotions while at Metra and eventually became director of regulatory compliance, a position he held from September 2011 until February 2014.In 2013, Progressive Railroading selected Vonashek as one of 20 "Rising Stars" in the railroad industry.