World Class: Metro-North Wins the International Brunel Award for Design

The scope and variety of the entries illustrates the intense competition for the prestigious prize, which is given every three years by The Watford Group and The Center for Industrial Design in Transportation.

"The award is recognition of Metro-North's 30-year-long sea change from an unreliable and decrepit railroad into the premier passenger railroad in North America," said Metro-North President Howard Permut, who accepted the Jury Prize from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood late last year at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

"The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is gratified by the recognition bestowed upon Metro-North by the Watford Group," said MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota. "This award illustrates the level of excellence that we continually strive for across the entire MTA family."

Metro-North is the first American railroad to win this coveted award in its 26-year history. The award is named after the famous railway inventor Isambard Brunel, founder and builder of the UK's Great Western Railway.

The Brunel Award competition is open to all passenger and freight railways, public or private, throughout the world to recognize and promote 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.

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."

The distinguished international 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 a 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 being built exclusively for the 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.