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Safety & Reliability Update, September 2015

Updated September 1, 2015 11:00 a.m.

Metro-North is committed to the goal of rebuilding the railroad's organizational culture and its physical plant so that safety is the foundation of everything we do, enabling us to continue to move forward and improve our service reliability.

This past spring Metro-North reported on numerous reforms already implemented or currently underway to ensure the safety of our customers and employees:

Safety improvements we are implementing in the near future include:

  • Installing video and audio recording devices in railcars to begin in 2016.
  • Installing Positive Train Control, which is regarded as the most modern type of train protection with a pilot program set to begin on the New Haven and Hudson Lines next year.
  • Installing an Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement Systems on our railcars in 2016.

In tandem with these safety improvements, Metro-North has undertaken major work along our right-of-way to restore our infrastructure. Here is the latest update on the aggressive track improvements completed this summer and what will be accomplished this fall.

We realize necessary track work—either scheduled or unplanned—increases the probability of train delays as we continue to focus on safety and work to bring the infrastructure to a state of good repair. That is why we have reviewed and revised train schedules to ensure sufficient windows exist to perform track maintenance. This sometimes means adding time to a train's schedule during weekends and off-peak periods. We recognize the impact that track work has on the railroad's ability to provide reliable service. However, the track work and the resulting service declines are a consequence of our focus on the safety of our system.     

We have accomplished a lot but we need to do much more to rebuild the railroad's physical plant. And we believe some short-term delays resulting from these efforts are worth attaining that goal.

We appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers as we carry out these critical projects. Our track work program will not only make our system safer; it is also an investment in the future reliability of our system, which is something that our customers rightfully expect.

The Results

As a result of the accomplishments and changes which have taken place so far, Metro-North’s service reliability continues to show steady improvement:

  • System-wide performance at 94.2% on-time during July and 96.1% in August.
  • AM and PM Peak Service continues to operate reliably at 97.3% and weekend performance improved to 98.1%.
  • Off-Peak Service operated at 93.9% as we continue our ongoing track infrastructure work.
  • The fleet’s air conditioning performance was 99.7% during the summer.

As our service and equipment reliability have improved, we have seen a corresponding decrease in customer complaints:

  • Overall complaints are down 50% since January but have leveled out the past few months.
  • Complaints about Late or Canceled Trains have gone down 77% since January.

And more and more people are coming to rely on our service:

  • Total rail ridership in July increased 1.6 percent versus July 2014.
  • Overall East of Hudson ridership increased 1.6 percent; West of Hudson ridership increased 2.2 percent during July and ridership on Metro-North’s Managed Connecting Services increased 3.3 percent.
  • Year-to-date, Total Rail ridership is 1.3 percent above 2014.
  • Based on our Year-End Forecast, East of Hudson ridership projections for calendar year 2015 are on track to be the highest ever in Metro-North’s History at 84.2 Million or 1.5 percent above last year’s record year (84.2 M vs. 83.0M).

This ridership increase further emphasizes the need for a continued commitment to invest in and improve our infrastructure.