Kawasaki Rail Car, Inc.
by Ed Stannard, New Haven Register
February 22, 2016 - Metro-North Railroad has recorded a new high in mechanical performance, with its trains traveling an average of almost 200,000 miles before breaking down, the railroad reported Monday.
The distance of 199,838 miles — eight times the circumference of the Earth — is the best performance since 1989, when the railroad began recording the statistic, and it beat Metro-North’s projected goal of 185,000 miles.
The reasons were the full roll-out of 405 new M8 cars and more intensive maintenance schedules, Metro-North said in a release.
“The M8 cars have proved to be one of the best and most important investments we’ve made in recent years and I am not surprised at how well they’ve been performing,” said Connecticut Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker in the release. “They have been extremely well received by our customers who clearly appreciate their reliability and state-of-the-art amenities.”
Metro-North is the busiest commuter railroad in the country, with 86 million rides in 2015. Besides the New Haven Line, the busiest, it runs the Harlem and Hudson lines in New York state. In Connecticut, there are three branch lines, to New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury.
“Now that the M8 cars have gone through the initial ‘break-in’ period, we have a chance to evaluate their design and performance in real-world conditions,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti, in the release. “We are very pleased that the M8 cars are exceeding their performance expectations. This is a testament to the years of work that went into designing and building these cars.”
Inspections and maintenance of M8 cars is scheduled at 92-day, one-year and five-year intervals. There is also intensive maintenance on the older trains on the New York lines and the branches.
“This is good news to the commuters who are in the midst of a seven-year rate hike to help fund the M8s,” said Jim Gildea, new chairman of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council. “It is good to see that the investments that were made in the M8 cars are paying off. This shows that when the proper investments are made in infrastructure; performance follows.”
Gildea cited higher ridership and more frequent off-peak service as contributing to stress on the system. He said some M8 cars will be moved to the Shore Line East line, so that “clearly they need to buy more” of the new cars. Shore Line East cars, which run on diesel, will be used on the upcoming Hartford Line between New Haven and Springfield, Massachusetts.
While praising the improved service on the New Haven Line, Gildea said, “Quite frankly the branch lines don’t perform nearly as well as the main line,” largely because of older locomotives in use.
Jim Cameron, chairman of the Commuter Action Group, said “I think the M8 is certainly living up to everyone’s expectations. They have performed extremely well through the winter.” He called the new cars more “snow-resistant” than the cars previously in use.
“In previous years I think they were less confident” of the cars’ reliability, Cameron said. “Even though service may have been shut down it was for a shorter period of time.
“The M8 cars are well designed, they’re well maintained … and I think that’s why ridership is going up despite lower gas prices,” Cameron said.
This article is posted with permission by the New Haven Register.