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For four consecutive weeknights hundreds of MTA workers labored through the late night and early morning hours cleaning, inspecting, repairing and replacing subway infrastructure on a nearly seven-mile segment of the normally busy Lexington Avenue Line.

Jobs that would usually take weeks or months to complete were accomplished in days because, for the first time, maintenance workers were allowed to perform their tasks without the interruption of passenger trains rolling through a massive work area that stretched from Grand Central-42nd Street to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

MTA New York City Transit’s new FASTRACK initiative is an entirely new way to perform subway maintenance in our system completely suspending train service over a segment of a subway line, giving workers uninterrupted access to tracks, signals, cables, lighting, third rail components and platform edges.  During the four-night period, more than 300 vital tasks were completed - from rail replacement to roadbed cleaning to the scraping and painting of ceilings over tracks and platforms.  Much of this work had not been performed in several years and some of it could only be done in the absence of trains over an extended period of time.

“It was clear from the first night that in terms of productivity and efficiency, FASTRACK is a major improvement in the way we perform subway maintenance and a perfect example of what can be accomplished when labor and management work as a team to improve the system,” said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast.  “I consider this effort a success and it could not have come about without the hard work and dedication of the hundreds of Transit workers who worked on the tracks, tunnels, and in the stations.”   

Three work trains supported nearly 70 work crews from several divisions within the Department of Subways.  Work was performed in the stations along the line segment as well as the tunnels and even into the Joralemon Tube that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan.


In the planning for upwards of three months, the result was a seamless effort that saw maintenance workers specializing in different disciplines working to complete jobs and make improvements that customers would notice by the time service was resumed on the 4, 5 and 6 line for the next morning’s rush period.  Workers cleaned and replaced lighting fixtures, scraped dry mud from the roadbed while also removing trash and debris, as well as inspected and performed preventative maintenance on components crucial to providing safe and reliable service. They also scraped peeling paint from station ceilings and painted station areas.  Rails were replaced in several areas along with a heavily utilized track switch just north of the Brooklyn Bridge Station.

Work also included inspections of equipment along the tracks; scraping and bagging of debris; replacement of tie and rail fastener plates; scraping and painting rubbing board and columns within station limits; cleaning of stations (mobile wash); cleaning of drains; and routine maintenance and performance testing of signals.  All work was wrapped up and service restored to customers by 5 a.m. each morning.

“A tremendous amount of coordination and effort is going into FASTRACK and we are already seeing the benefits,” said Carmen Bianco, Senior Vice President of the Department of Subways.

Platform Conductors and Traffic Checkers were on hand at key transit hubs including Grand Central – 42nd St, Atlantic Ave-Pacific St and 14th St – Union Square handing out printed information and directing riders to alternate lines.  In addition to these efforts, the MTA’s website,, provided daily updates to customers on the previous night’s work.  When FASTRACK is complete, and NYC Transit performs its assessment, NYC Transit will provide a full report to the MTA Board for review.

The next FASTRACK overnight closure will be on the Broadway/Seventh Avenue 1, 2, 3 line between 34th Street and Atlantic Avenue from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for four consecutive nights beginning Monday, February 13 and ending at 5 a.m. Friday, February 17.

Highlights of the work completed during Lexington Avenue Line FASTRACK:

Track – removed 20,140 pounds of debris, scraped and cleaned a total of 19,770 feet of track, replaced 42 tie blocks, installed 1,005 plates, installed 1,615 friction pads, replaced 25 sections of rails, replaced track switch;
Third Rail Operations - cleared 1,685 identified defects, scraped and cleaned 4,900 feet of track under and around the third rail;
Signals – first of the month inspection performed on 311 locations, serviced 14 switch machines, tested 63 timer relays, cleared five electrical grounding conditions;
Power- inspected 55 manholes for faults, installed 866 feet of new communication cable;
Infrastructure- Four stations were sounded and tapped for loose concrete, cleaned drains at eight stations, grouted leaks at 10 locations;
Elevators & Escalators- cleared 86 elevator and escalator defects, replaced 23 escalator steps at three stations;
Electronics Maintenance Division- tested and inspected 167 emergency alarm/emergency telephones, inspected eight escalator fire suppression systems, inspected 12 platform edge CCTV’s and replaced monitors and     cameras as needed;
Maintenance of Way Engineering - wired and cut in five control line/key by locations;
Station Environment - repaired lighting and installed new lighting at five stations, replaced 2,217 bulbs, replaced missing/damaged floor tiles at four stations, scraped 29,150 square feet, primed 12,650 square feet, and painted 17,650 square feet of platform and track ceilings, repaired broken steps at 15 stations, cleaned and sanitized 15 stations with mobile wash, baited and removed garbage from refuse rooms at 15 stations, replaced 43 platform edge signs at nine stations, replaced 2,172 bulbs in tunnels; painted stairway copings and railings at seven stations.