Moving New York
New York City

At a Glance

  • Client(s)
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), Metro-North Railroad
  • Work Performed By
  • LTK Brooklyn
  • Project Contact
  • Julie Green, Vice President, New York Region
  • Project Description
  • Acquisition of 1,172 total cars — 836 cars for the LIRR and 336 cars for Metro-North
  • Project Duration
  • 1997-2012
  • Project Cost
  • $2.5 billion

The Challenge

Achieving new levels of reliability for the nation’s largest commuter rail electric multiple unit fleet. 

In the mid-1990s, the two New York commuter railroads were experiencing growing ridership and increasing reliability challenges with their workhorse electric multiple unit (EMU) fleets. Both railroads were operating EMUs that had been in service for more than 30 years. Their analog cab signal equipment was increasingly prone to failure in service. At the same time, the railroads’ increased use of cab signaling systems without wayside signals were compounding the reliability issues with on-board cab signal equipment, reducing reliability and the ability of the systems to meet passenger demand. LTK was selected by both commuter railroads to develop a new generation EMU emphasizing passenger amenities, performance, and – most importantly – unparalleled reliability.

Our Continued Commitment

LTK’s involvement in the M-series cars began in 1967 with the procurement of the original M-1 EMUs. Four decades and 3,000 cars later, LTK has amassed an extensive history supporting M-series rail car procurements, assisting Metro-North, the LIRR, and Connecticut DOT during every M-series fleet addition. This involvement has included the M-2, M-4, M-6, and M-8 fleets for the Metro-North New Haven Line, as well as the M-3 and new M-9 fleets for the third rail networks of both LIRR and Metro-North.

The Solutions

Starting in 1997, LTK supported LIRR and Metro-North Railroad as they procured state-of-the-art M-7 cars. We provided procurement and engineering support services, including car and subsystem configuration, technical specification, evaluation of contractor/supplier proposals, procurement program technical support, and quality assurance. The M-7 cars continued the design evolution of the New York MTA’s M-series of EMU’s by incorporating innovative technologies, including alternating current propulsion to improve reliability and reduce maintenance requirements.

LTK identified the greatest reliability challenges, then recommended the following strategies:

  • Upgrade communications systems: The M-7 makes widespread use of microprocessor technology, wireless modems to communicate maintenance data, and GPS triggering of automatic passenger station announcements.
  • Account for extreme weather: A single door leaf configuration (replacing the traditional double leaf design), along with a re-engineered heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, have been more resilient and more effective at providing customer comfort in all types of weather conditions.
  • Integrate software-based braking: “Rate banking” provides maximum train performance/reduced brake wear and ensures compliance with critical braking distances for stop signals and enforced speed restrictions.
  • Use train-based electrical power limiting: This takes advantage of the LTK-specified train communications network to avoid overloading the railroads’ traction power substations.

The Results

The full deployment of the M-7 fleet resulted in significantly improved on-time performance and fleet reliability for both New York commuter railroads. By 2014, the M-7 cars were operating an average of 485,000 miles (more than 19 trips around the world!) between failures. This all-time record reflects the hard work of the railroads’ maintenance forces, as well as the reliability innovations spearheaded by LTK.

Did You Know?

  • With 1,172 cars manufactured, the M-7 is the most popular electrically-powered rail car in North America.
  • M-7 cars make the longest continuous third rail-powered trips in North America: 50.4 miles from New York Penn Station to Ronkonkoma and 53.3 miles from Grand Central to Southeast, NY.
  • You can tell which railroad you’re on by the seats: the M-7 cars of the LIRR have seats that face away from the doors, creating a “booth” in the center, while Metro-North M-7 cars have seats that face the doors.
  • Here’s a testament to the unsurpassed reliability of the M-7 cars: Many of their technological innovations have been incorporated into the recently completed M-8 cars for Metro-North as well as the M-9 cars currently being acquired by both LIRR and Metro-North.

LTK Capabilities Used on This Project