Fully Funded Subway Action Plan Allows For Accelerated Work on Continuously Welded Rail, Which Reduces Track Related Delays
MTA Will Double Rate of Continuously Welded Rail Installations from 19.9 Miles to 39.8 Miles of Track
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today toured the Avenue M Station in the Midwood section of Brooklyn to demonstrate track improvement work that will be accelerated now that the Subway Action Plan is fully funded. Some 39.8 miles of track will be outfitted with continuously welded rail, which eliminates rail joints in the system that can serve as key points of failure and cause delays. Increased continuously welded rail will produce a safer, quieter, more stable and comfortable ride for customers. Thanks to full funding of the action plan, the MTA will double the rate it is installing continuous welded rail, from 19.9 miles to 39.8 miles of track by the end of the year.
"With the Subway Action Plan now fully funded, the MTA is accelerating critical maintenance and repair work to provide badly needed relief to riders," Governor Cuomo said. "Ensuring as much of the system is running on continuously welded rail as possible is a critical component of the Subway Action Plan and will provide New Yorkers with a smoother and more reliable subway ride."
Governor Cuomo, MTA Chairman Lhota, MTA Senior Vice President of Subways Sally Librera and MTA workers demonstrated a boutet weld on a track on the Brighton Line (B)(Q) of the subway system, just one of roughly 390 remaining such welds set to take place system wide as part of track welding work associated with the Subway Action Plan. The Governor, Chairman Lhota and Senior Vice President Librera also viewed segments of previously defective track that has been removed and replaced as part of the Subway Action Plan. The additional funding will now allow the MTA to remove upwards of 10,000 backlogged defects.
Continuously welded rail is a construction technology that helps increase the rate at which new rail is installed. On traditional rails, most breaks occur at or near the rail joint, but continuously welded rail merges rails to form one uninterrupted rail. That results in fewer stress points and a smoother and quieter ride for customers. Continuously welded rails help limit the number of subway car breakdowns. Some have compared the effects of continuously welded rail work to what filling potholes can with respect to reducing auto repairs. Continuously welded rails come with rubber plates that help limit vibrations. Roughly 440 miles of the city’s subway tracks are eligible for continuously welded rail work, with 386.8 miles having now been converted.
"With the Subway Action Plan now fully funded, the MTA is accelerating critical maintenance and repair work to provide badly needed relief to riders..."
A boutet weld is a thermite (molten metal) welding process used to attach two rails with a weld instead of joint bars. Workers cut a 1" welding gap between the two rails using an abrasive saw. They then vertically adjust the weld so that when the weld cools, it will not be low, and they horizontally adjust the rail so that the gauge sides align. The workers then apply the molds, centered over the rail gap ends. The mold is preheated, and the diverter plug is placed into the molds. A crucible is placed on top of the molds and the ignitor is lit, pushing into the middle of the charge as the crucible cover is placed. A reaction then occurs, pouring the molten metal material into the molds. The molds are filled and slag (excess) flows into the sag basin. 5 minutes after the mold is filled, the slag basin and crucible are removed. A de-molder is then set over the weld in order to remove any excess mold. The mold is sheared using a hydraulic shearer, and the rail is profiled using a grinder.
"The Subway Action Plan is about maintaining our system and too often, the important work of maintenance is forgotten when we discuss ways of improving the subways for our customers," said MTA Chairman Lhota. "I'm thankful that our Governor understands this and that he's worked tirelessly to help provide the necessary resources to the workers at New York City Transit so that they can bring the system back to a place where we all want it to be."