New York MTA awards contracts for Penn Station Access Project, LIRR interlocking upgrade

Dec. 17, 2021
The rail projects will improve service reliability and, as it pertains to the Penn Station Access Project, fill a rail service gap.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has awarded contracts to advance a rail maintenance project on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), as well as a project that will provide direct Metro-North service from the Bronx.

The larger of the two projects – the Penn Station Access Project – will provide Metro-North Railroad service to the East Bronx, which currently lacks rail service, as well as Westchester and Connecticut to New York Penn Station and Manhattan’s west side.

The design-build contract for the $2.87 billion project will be awarded to Halmar International, LLC/RailWorks, J.V. The project includes four stations and turns a double track railroad into a largely four-track railroad with more than 19 miles of new and rehabilitated track. The project also includes four bridge rehabilitations, the reconfiguration of Metro-North's New Rochelle Yard, four new and one reconfigured interlockings, five new and two upgraded substations and the modernization of signal, power and communication infrastructure.

Stakeholders say the project will maximize the potential of existing infrastructure, while minimizing impacts on the community by using Amtrak's existing Hell Gate Line. Amtrak is contributing $500 million toward the project, which will bring the Hell Gate Line into a state of good repair, improve reliability and on-time performance for intercity passengers and prepare the corridor for future high-speed rail.

"This is a great news for the Bronx and the region. With four new ADA-accessible stations in Co-Op City, Morris Park, Parkchester/Van Nest and Hunts Point, Penn Station Access will deliver access to jobs, education and opportunity for those underserved neighborhoods, cutting commutes to the Manhattan Central Business District, but also introducing reverse commuting opportunities,” said MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber.

On MTA’s LIRR, a design-build contract awarded to Hitachi Rail STS, USA Inc., will deliver a modern switch and signal system to the switching complex known as the Queens Interlocking. The Interlocking is divided into five separate remote control interlockings that manage switching on the active tracks and provides switching access to LIRR’s new Elmont Station/UBS Station.

Hitachi Rail will create and install a new signal system at the Queens Interlocking that will enable LIRR to improve and increase service along the Main Line between Hicksville and Floral Park and help the new Elmont-UBS Arena Station become a two-way full service station.

The contract provides for the design, fabrication, assembly, delivery, systems integration and testing of a new signal system for Queens Interlocking, including pre-wired central instrument locations (“CILs”), auxiliary huts, track cases, switches, signals and ancillary equipment. The Design-Builder will also set and secure the assembled CILs and auxiliary huts at the Project site. LIRR Force Account will install all wayside signal and switch equipment and connect all cables to the CILs and auxiliary huts.

“Upgrading the Queens Interlocking is a vital component to unlock the full potential of a trifecta of projects: Mainline Expansion, East Side Access and the new Elmont-UBS Arena Station. As our riders continue to return, they are going to experience a new LIRR,” said Phil Eng, president of LIRR. “Accomplishing this work in one of our busiest corridors while running over 200 trains daily through these work zones is testament to the ingenuity of our workforce. These new switches and signals will add redundancy, reliability and operational flexibility as we provide improved service for our customers while keeping an eye on future needs and changing ridership patterns. We’re excited for all that’s still to come for the LIRR and Long Island.”

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