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MTA pilots air filtration systems on commuter rail

Shown: MTA Metro-North Railroad Chief Mechanical Officer Jim Heimbuecher unveils the railroad's pilot rail-car air purification technology.
Photo – MTA Flickr/Marc A. Hermann


MTA Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) officials yesterday announced they are piloting a new technology to filter and purify air inside commuter-rail cars. 

The technology uses an electrical field to generate a wave of ionized particles that destroy airborne viruses, bacteria and particulate matter, including COVID-19, MTA officials said in a press release.

The air filtration and purification system — being developed under patent by Knorr Brake Co. LLC and its subsidiary Merak North America LLC — is incorporated into the railroads’ existing ventilation systems, and can replace the air inside a rail car 12 times an hour.

Metro-North installed the technology in two HVAC units of a Metro-North rail car on Oct. 7, and LIRR will install the system on a rail car by Oct. 31. The railroads will evaluate the technology's effectiveness and its ability to scale up for installation throughout their fleets, agency officials said.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency researchers also will test the technology.

MTA is the first North American transit agency to test the technology, MTA officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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