Prep work on the next phase of the Culver Line Signal Modernization Project throughout the F Line in southern Brooklyn is underway by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which is expected to continue over the course of the next nine weekends.
Once completed, the $253-million project will improve service reliability and performance throughout the F line for decades to come. The project, which had its original late March start date pushed back in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, will replace 70-year-old signals between Church Av and Coney Island with a modern Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) system and serves as an important example of the MTA’s ongoing efforts to tackle major projects despite the ongoing pandemic.
“As we navigate through incredibly challenging times it’s important that we keep making progress in rebuilding and modernizing our transit system,” said Janno Lieber, MTA chief development officer and president of MTA Construction & Development. “This includes upgrading the signals on the Culver Line, which will allow us to provide more frequent and more reliable service for f train riders.”
This phase of the project is being done on weekends, when ridership is lower, to minimize disruptions for the majority of the line’s customers. Details pertaining to the station closures were conveyed to elected officials and the MTA has launched an informative website and posted signage at the impacted stations. A customized subway map for users of the Culver line – particularly helpful for visitors traveling to Coney Island – is included on the website and will be available in stations as well.
In addition to installing CBTC along the F line, the signal modernization project will also replace the Kings Highway Interlocking, which governs how trains switch tracks at a key location along the F line in Brooklyn. During rush hours, some F trains terminate at Kings Highway. The project also adds three new signal facilities at Ditmas Ave, Bay Parkway, and Avenue X. This will allow personnel to respond faster and with alternative service options when there are disruptions, providing customers a better means to complete their trips.
“The bottom line is that a modern signaling system will allow the MTA to deliver better and more reliable service for F line train riders,” said Interim New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg. “We remain laser-focused on keeping our customers safe, and we have to continue looking beyond the immediate challenges and toward a modernized future for NYC Transit as well. Work on the Culver Line is about ensuring that New Yorkers have a world-class transit system for decades to come.”
A modern signaling system like CBTC is more flexible than the current ‘fixed-block’ signaling system because it continuously updates train positions, distances, and travel speeds, allowing for faster and more efficient operations. New York City Transit has successfully installed and implemented CBTC on the Canarsie land Flushing 7 Lines. On-time performance of the Flushing 7 Line and the Canarsie l Line often exceeds 90 percent, says MTA.
The installation of new solid-state interlocking (SSI) equipment will also provide much more specific diagnostic information so problems can be fixed more quickly. This work includes building a new relay room to house the new signaling equipment; reconfiguring and replacing two old interlockings at Avenue X and Ditmas Av; and adding two new interlockings south of Church Ave.
In the current phase of the project, work is scheduled to take place every weekend, weather permitting, through July 27. Work is set to begin at approximately 9:45 p.m. on Friday evenings, with affected stations reopening at around 5:00 a.m. Monday mornings. Customers traveling on the F between Church Av and Coney Island should use D, N, and Q trains and local buses to complete trips in the relevant area.
Work on the F line will continue in 2021 and 2022, with the CBTC phase beginning immediately following the conclusion of the interlocking work on July 27 and continuing during most weekends through the end of the year. Information will be posted on the website when it becomes available.