Letter: LIRR Races To Deadline


The Federal Rail Road Administration originally mandated that Positive Train Control to insure safety for the riding public be completed by 2015. Even with a time extension to Dec. 2018, it is doubtful that the Long Island Rail Road will meet this new deadline. The LIRR may have insufficient force account workers including inadequate numbers of certified signal maintainers and other specialized trade employees to complete system-wide installation of Positive Train Control along with ongoing work in the East River Tunnels, Main Line Third Track and East Side Access. How will the LIRR be able to coordinate daily track outages and go slow work zones to support all of this work while at the same time providing the basic service for which customers are entitled? This could result in missing the Dec. 31, 2018, recovery schedule completion date for Positive Train Control.

Don’t blame Washington when it comes to the MTA on behalf of the LIRR deciding not to use federal assistance for installing Positive Train Control. When a crisis occurred, be it 9/11 or Hurricane Sandy, Washington was there for us. Additional billions in assistance above and beyond yearly formula allocations from the U.S. Department of Transportation was provided. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided billions more.

Most federal grants require a 20 percent hard-cash local share. The transit administration accepted toll credits from the MTA instead of hard cash for the local share. This saves MTA more than $1.2 billion yearly. Washington in 2017 made available to the MTA more than $1.3 billion in funding assistance, which helps pay for a portion of its capital program.

MTA had the option to program some of these funds for the purchase and installation of Positive Train Control. The MTA elected to use these dollars toward other capital improvement projects and programs. This has been the case going back 10 or more years.

—Larry Penner

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