F train improvements roll forward with new signal room, interlocking tech: MTA

coney island subway
The F-train to Coney Island will be replaced with the G for two weekends in August.
Photo by Aidan Graham

Despite an uncertain financial future amid the pandemic, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is moving ahead with a number of improvement projects — including their multimillion dollar F train repairs, which will modernize infrastructure along the popular line in Brooklyn.

The agency has been working to improve the F train with new signaling in the last month, which includes a partial closure of the Rutgers Tube between Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan — the 11th and final MTA tunnel under a major body of water to be rebuilt after damage sustained from Superstorm Sandy.

“We are committed to adding modernized signals and providing the best service possible for our customers in Brooklyn,” said Janno Lieber, Chief Development Officer at the MTA. “It is important that this project, and projects like it, have continued safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

With the F train repairs comes an additional service change, the MTA said. For one week in August and September, F trains will only operate express between 18th Avenue and Avenue X in Brooklyn due to the replacement of what the MTA says are 70-year-old signals between Church Avenue and Coney Island with Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) along with the effort to replace the Kings Highway Interlocking system, which has been underway since 2017.

Work on the Rutgers Tube is expected to follow the blueprint of how the state addressed the Canarsie Tunnel on the L train that left thousands of commuters uncertain about the future of their daily lives and commutes. The state will again opt for a plan from Cornell University to coat the bench-walls of the tunnels with fiber-reinforced polymers during overnight and weekend schedules.

From August 2020 to March 2021, the MTA plans to reroute service on the F line overnight to the C train between Jay Street-MetroTech and West 4th Street in Manhattan, and along the E line from West 4th Street to 36th Street in Queens.

Switch repairs on the 4-5-6 trains also started last week. The switch repairs are included in about $3 billion worth of repairs already committed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic by the MTA, which has been requesting since April about $4 billion from the federal government to support their operations through the rest of the year.

After COVID-19 reduced ridership across all MTA systems by up to 90 percent, the agency has been slow to recover its fare box revenue loss as many continue to work from home and others avoid mass transit out of an abundance of caution for their health.

In July, the agency announced that without an infusion of funds in a stimulus package they could have a $16 billion deficit by 2024. 

More info on planned service changes resulting from the F train repairs can be found on the MTA website

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.