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Metro-North Railroad Wins Prestigious International Design Award

The United States Secretary of Transportation, Ray La Hood, presented the prestigious 2011 Jury Prize for Overall Design Excellence from The Watford Group and The Center for Industrial Design in Transportation to MTA Metro-North Railroad on Friday at the Brunel Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Metro-North was the first American railroad to win this coveted award in its 26-year history. Forty-three railways from 15 countries on three continents entered 150 projects in this year's international competition. The Brunel Awards are open to all passenger and freight railways throughout the world and recognize and promote the best in railway design and engineering.

"As we work to rebuild our transportation systems and create jobs, it is more essential than ever that we recognize the innovative engineers, architects, and designers who make new rail projects possible," said Secretary LaHood. "These projects - including eight right here in the United States - all exemplify the idea that when we invest in transportation, we lay the groundwork for a new century of economic development, opportunity, and growth."

"Considering the caliber of the competition, it was certainly a thrilling and rewarding experience," said Metro-North President Howard Permut, who accepted the Jury Prize from LaHood.

Photo of Metro-North accepting the Brunel Jury Prize
At the Brunel Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. are (l.-r.): Jury Prize Chairman Prof. Ronald Kemnitzer; MTA Board Member (Orange County) Susan Metzger; Center For Industrial Design in Transportation (C4IDT) Chairman James Michel; President Howard Permut, holding the prestigious Jury Prize; U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood; Capital Programs Senior Director Timothy McCarthy; recently retired Harmon Shops Project Manager Michael Sickenius; General Chairman IAM John Lacey; Capital Programs Director-Special Projects Mari Miceli; and Maintenance of Equipment Ass't. Chief Mechanical Officer Michael Yaeger.

In describing the selection, the report of the Awards Jury stated: "Metro-North carries the most passengers every year on the American continent and has undergone both extraordinary changes of company culture as well as the shift to incorporation of design as a strategic business tool."

"It was truly gratifying to be recognized for our customer focus, since excellent customer service has always been our most important goal. Everything we do, from designing employee uniforms and enhancing customer amenities to building stations, facilities and rail cars, is geared toward the goal of providing our customers with the best transportation experience possible," Permut said.

"I want to thank the Jury panel for recognizing our dedication to serving our customers, our continuing work toward a more efficient operation, and our commitment to sustainability. This is a great honor," Permut added. He also praised Metro-North's "top-notch workforce," saying "it is due to the hard work and talent of Metro-North employees that we have become the first American railroad to win the Brunel Jury Prize."

The Brunel Award competition, open to public and private railway organizations, recognizes and promotes the best in railway architecture, engineering, landscape and environmental design, product design, locomotive and car design, graphic arts, and corporate branding amongst the world's railways.

The jury was chaired by Professor Ronald Keminitzer, FIDSA, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA. Other jurors were: Roy Allen, CEO, Transportation Technology Center, Inc. USA; Ignacio Barron, Passenger and High-Speed Rail Department Head of the International Union of Railways (UIC), France; Angela Brady, FRIBA, President, Royal Institute of British Architects, UK; Niels Diffrient, FIDSA, Industrial Designer, USA; Professor Lars Lallerstedt, Industrial Designer, Sweden; Pamela Loeffelman, FAIA, Executive Director, Perkins Eastman, USA; and Chase Rynd, CEO, National Building Museum, USA.

The Jury Prize is only eligible to a railroad that enters project in all five categories, which Metro-North did, winning first place in the "Freight and Railway Support Buildings" category for its Croton-Harmon Locomotive and Coach Shops. These two 21st century facilities are designed for a 21st century fleet, with ultra-modern equipment maintenance capability that provides employees with a safe, clean work environment. They represent the largest capital and engineering project ever undertaken by Metro-North.

Metro-North's other entries:

    Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station (Passenger Station Buildings) -This built-from-scratch station, which was constructed on time and within budget, was designed to provide Yankees fans as well as Bronx customers with yet another transportation gateway. Contemporary lines and high-tech features define the facility which is a regular stop on the Hudson Line.

    Operations Control Center (Technical Infrastructure and Design)-Rail traffic control was brought into the 21st century with construction of the new OCC. New hardware and software such as a two-story-high wall display of the entire territory and larger, easier-to-use digital monitors for rail traffic controllers help to make directing 100s of trains daily a simpler task.

    M8 Rail Cars (Rolling Stock)-The sleek contemporary M8s are built exclusively for our New Haven Line. Designed with computerized software and built for better weather resistance, the M8s also provide customers with a host of amenities including wider more comfortable seats, convenience outlets, bigger windows and better lighting.

    "The Home of the Stars" MTA Arts for Transit (Industrial Design, Graphics and Art Branding) - This public art work installed on the south wall of the Yankees-E. 153rd Street Station pedestrian overpass is based on an ideally spectacular Bronx sky in April. The 11-panel, 200-foot-long mosaic depicts the sky at intervals from bright afternoon to starry night. It is sited to mask a fire wall that separates the new construction from an adjacent warehouse.