State-of-the-Art Computerized Signal and Switch Control System installed at busy Jamaica Station Complex
Long Island Rail Road customers have heard for months how the Jamaica Modernization project was going to significantly affect their train service on two weekends this fall. Now that the cutover to the new system was successfully completed this past weekend, what does it mean? In a word - Reliability.
The new state-of-the-art signal system upgrade brings computerized microprocessor-based technology to Jamaica's critical switching area and centralizes the switching and signal control from three antiquated signal towers at Jamaica -Jay, Dunton and Hall - in one facility, Jamaica Central Control. In addition to greater reliability for LIRR customers, the new control system offers greater flexibility for train movement through the Jamaica complex and better backup systems.
Bringing 21st century technology to one of the busiest rail hubs in the nation, the project replaced 1910's-era electro-mechanical Model 14 Interlocking Machines at the three towers with a modern microprocessor-based system. Switches that once were thrown by hand levers will now be controlled by the click of a computer mouse. The new more reliable system increases operational flexibility for the large volume of trains that pass through this area, helping to reduce customer delays. Trains from 10 of the LIRR's 11 branches travel through Jamaica each day with weekday ridership exceeding 200,000 customers.
The new system also provides redundant signal control systems. It will allow for quicker recovery time in the event of a power surge, or lightning storm or fire-related service disruption like the one experienced in August 2010, when high voltage power entered the signal system and damaged the wiring to the signal control board in Jamaica's Hall Tower.
Train directors at the Jamaica hub, previously located in three separate towers, are now strategically located in a single office that provides them with the ability to communicate face to face in real time instead of by telephone. An overview board of the Jamaica hub allows all the train directors to see the train movements as they are being made in other parts of the complex - enabling them to plan for changes in real time. This allows for improved planning and coordination of train movements in this very dynamic operation.
The new system controls the 208 switching machines and 144 signals used for the routing of trains through Jamaica. The cost of the project - approximately $56-million - was funded by the MTA Capital Program.