Acquisition of New Fleet and Intensive Maintenance are Main Factors

Metro-North maintenance

It's an historic accomplishment for Metro-North! The railroad has achieved the best mechanical performance in the history of its rail cars, leading customers to experience more reliable trains and better on-time performance.

In 2015, Metro-North rail cars averaged a distance of 199,838 miles before breaking down and causing a delay. That’s enough miles to circle the earth eight times! It’s the highest “mean distance between failures” performance since Metro-North first started tracking the figure in 1989. 2015’s number obliterates 2014’s by more than 50,000 miles, or two times around the earth, and it was 8% above Metro-North’s projected goal of 185,000 miles.

The reasons for the improving reliability are the use of improved car maintenance strategies and strong performance of a renewed rail car fleet.

Joint investments made through the MTA’s Capital Program and the Connecticut Department of Transportation have brought a new fleet of rail cars, known as the M8s, to Metro-North’s busiest line, the New Haven Line. The M8s have replaced nearly all of the older M2, M4 and M6 rail cars, which dated to the 1970s and 1980s. The first of the M8 cars – there are 405 of them in total – went into service in 2011, and the last were put into service by the end of June 2015. The M8s exceeded their mileage goal for the year by 2.4%. Enhanced performance features of the M8 cars include sealed, alternating current motors that are less vulnerable to weather and simplified, more reliable single-leaf doors.

“Now that the M8 cars have gone through the initial ‘break-in’ period, we have a chance to evaluate their design and performance in real-world conditions,” said Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti. “We are very pleased that the M8 cars are exceeding their performance expectations. This is a testament to the years of work that went into designing and building these cars. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s also a testament to the strong partnership between the States of New York and Connecticut that led to the crucial capital investment needed to get these cars into service.”

“The M8 cars have proved to be one of the best and most important investments we’ve made in recent years and I am not surprised at how well they’ve been performing,” said CTDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “They have been extremely well received by our customers who clearly appreciate their reliability and state-of-the-art amenities. I applaud Metro-North for their efforts to improve service for the tens of thousands of commuters who use rely on the New Haven Line every day.”

To keep its M8 fleet running smoothly, inspections and maintenance of all cars is scheduled at 92 day, 1 year and 5 year intervals. The maintenance becomes increasingly comprehensive as the vehicles age.

Metro-North has implemented a Reliability Centered Maintenance strategy that has maintained exceptional service on the cars used on the Hudson and Harlem Lines. Between 2004 and 2007, replaced the M1 fleet with M7 train cars. “Although it’s been more than ten years, the M7s are operating as though they’re brand new,” said Michael Yaeger, Metro-North’s Chief Mechanical Officer.

Reliability Centered Maintenance has effectively maximized the M7 fleet’s availability. The fleet is subject to regulatory safety inspection compliance, five separate maintenance checks throughout the calendar year, and planned Higher System-Level Maintenance when trains require more major repairs, such as the removal, rebuilding and replacement of motors, air compressors and brake components.

And good performance numbers have led to better numbers elsewhere on Metro-North. The strong fleet availability has meant there were train seats for 99.6% of all Metro-North customers in 2015. A good fleet and less need for repairs contributed to Metro-North’s system-wide on-time performance. On-time performance in 2015 totaled 93.5%, up two percentage points from 91.5% in 2014.

Substantive enhancements and improvements to Metro-North service come at a time when ridership numbers are the highest in Metro-North’s history, more than 86 million customers in 2015.