A Little Bit of Track Work Goes a Long Way on No. 32

Two thousand feet of rail. One thousand block ties. Ninety bracket ties, and a whole lot of elbow grease.

When our Track Renewal Program identified Grand Central Terminal’s Track 32 for a complete overhaul, our platform gang was deployed to tackle the job.

The seven-person crew – comprised of a foreman, two machine operators and up to four trackmen – began the work in September 2017. The track is tentatively scheduled to be back in service by January 2018.

“It’s going to improve the daily lives of our commuters, the track inspectors and maintenance workforce,” said Brooke Clare, Manager, Track Maintenance, GCT. “This track renewal will keep things going for another 30 years.”

How, you might ask? The track renewal replaces all of the worn down track components with new ones – ensuring that “Our Infrastructure,” a key priority of our Strategic Plan, remains in good working order.

Since September, the gang has worked Tuesday through Saturday – sometimes around the clock – removing the various clips, plates, lags, block ties and rail from the track.

After the removal, the team cleans the entire area and rids the track of leftover debris. Brand new block ties are then put carefully in place before the Building & Bridges mason gang cements the ties down.

The platform gang then installs the new plates, lags, clips and long segments of continuously welded rail.

“When we’re renewing something… it’s not like daily maintenance,” said Clare. “Track renewal is like new construction. Everything is replaced for the better. Drains that were once clogged or broken can be fixed, platform edges that were cracking can be fixed as well during this outage. There is a lot of coordination and preparation put in place to make sure this does not impact our daily operations and customers.”

Previously, Tracks 11 and 41 were designated for the Track Renewal Program and completed in 2017.

“Track Supervisor Andy Zagajeski, Assistant Track Supervisor Juan Collado, and the entire GCT Track Department have done an excellent job in completing the work on each track,” said Andrea Hickman, Assistant Director, Track Maintenance, GCT/MO and Mark Ward, Deputy Director, Track, M of W. “The support from other departments including Third Rail, C&S and GCT Building Maintenance has also been integral to the success of the project.”

In completing these projects, Clare sees a bright future for both the platform gang and Metro-North.

“I hope we continue to learn from each track that is completed, and we take the lessons learned and apply them in the preliminary stages for future track renewal work,” said Clare. “This will only make the platforms better and we can work more efficiently and effectively as a team.”


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