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MTA Metro-North Railroad in 2015 will continue efforts begun last year to rebuild the railroad by implementing major safety initiatives and aggressive track improvements, President Joseph Giulietti announced yesterday.The railroad also anticipates improvements will continue as the last of the 405 M-8 cars are placed into service on the New Haven Line in spring."Numerous safety initiatives, both implemented and underway, and our ongoing, aggressive track maintenance program are paying off as reliability increases, slowly but surely," Giulietti told the Metro-North Committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board. "It is critical that we bring our infrastructure to a state of good repair and that we continue to focus each and every employee on the importance of safety as our core value."Last year, Metro-North's ridership increased 1.4 percent to a record 84.7 million riders, he said. The railroad achieved on-time performance 91.5 percent of the time last year; this year's on-time performance goals are 93 percent for trains operating in the morning and afternoon peak times and 92 percent for off-peak trains.Metro-North also set a goal for equipment reliability, known as mean distance between failure, of 185,000 miles, an increase from the 2014 goal of 160,000 miles, he said. Achievements in improved safety include the installation of alerters on the entire fleet to ensure that train engineers remain responsive, the launch a pilot program to identify key employees who may have sleep apnea, and the award of a contract for the purchase of inward- and outward-facing cameras onboard all trains in the fleet.The railroad's rebuilding plan was launched last year following a series of incidents, including the December 2013 derailment near the Bronx, N.Y., that resulted in four fatalities. The accident occurred after the engineer fell asleep and neglected to slow the train as it sped through a curve. The engineer was later diagnosed with sleep apnea.Here are highlights of Metro-North's 2014 track program: • Railroad workers replaced 42,500 ties on all three lines, resurfaced 83 miles of track across all lines resulting in upgrades to 20 miles of right of way, including drainage improvements.• Two dozen new switches (where tracks move from one track to another) were installed on the main lines, at Grand Central Terminal and in yards to improve operational flexibility. • Three grade crossings were renewed at Chippawalla Road and Pleasant Ridge Road on the Harlem Line and at Manitou Road on the Hudson Line. • Workers replaced 7,000 feet of continuous welded rail (CWR) on six curves on the Hudson Line and 4,700 feet of rail on three curves on the New Haven Line.• Steel repairs were made to four under grade bridges and timber bridge decks were replaced on nine bridges east and west of the Hudson River.• New timber ties, CWR, new miter rails and presence detectors were installed at the WALK Bridge, in Norwalk, Conn., and new timber ties were installed at the DEVON Bridge in Milford, Conn., and at the Harlem River Lift Bridge, that connects Manhattan and the Bronx.Additionally in 2015, the railroad's MOW forces will clean or replace ballast and create a new gan focused on drainage improvements. Crews also will install eight miles of continuous welded rail, replace eight grade crossings in Connecticut and install fiberglass brackets and channels to support new aluminum third rail that will be installed in targeted locations.
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