Subway trains can speed up, says Governor Cuomo, citing task force findings

NEW YORK CITY, New York (WABC) -- Subway trains can go faster in some parts of the system, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday, citing the preliminary findings from a task force.

The Train Speed and Safety Task Force has released information from its ongoing study to improve the subway system, saying trains on some sections of the subway could increase their speeds by up to 50%.

Cuomo credited his administration for asking questions about the MTA .

"It was a painful process to change all those bureaucratic norms," Cuomo said.

According to the report, trains began operating at slower speed limits in the 1990s after two deadly crashes at Union Square and the Williamsburg Bridge. Since then, trains continued operating at slower rates because the task force found the MTA failed to complete a speed and safety review that was underway.

"Our modern trains are better designed than our older fleet," MTA Managing Director Veronique Hakim said. "We have new tracks and continuous welded rail, better water drainage, improved electric service and interlockings, all of which means we can safely increase speeds beyond those set 20 years ago."

On average, the task force found that trains are moving more slowly than they were 20 years ago. They also discovered that other transit systems move more quickly than the subway.

In order for trains to go faster, certain areas must be addressed -- such as fixing train scheduling and updating underground speed signs. Then, new speeds must be tested in various conditions before suggesting new limits.

Although focusing on improving train performance, the task force emphasized that safety is always the primary concern.

"The goal of this study has been - and always will be - to increase reliability in the system, reduce running times, but all while ensuring that riders who rely on the subways will reach their destinations safely," said Jane Garvey, task force chair and former U.S. Federal Aviation Administrator.

The task forces will continue their ongoing investigation and plans to send their final recommendations to the MTA by the end of the year.

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