It never fails for trains to all of a sudden stop moving out of nowhere during service hours. This is what is referred to as a delay. One of the main reasons for train delays is signal malfunctions. For most passengers, there is nothing more disappointing than hearing the conductor announce that the train is delayed due to failures with signals. It also annoys passengers that the MTA never explains what signal failures are, why they go wrong, and things that can be done to avoid them. They just stop the train, give an excuse about signals, and expect passengers to comply with it. These delays usually last for quite some time and result in people arriving to their destinations late. Even if people aren’t in a rush to get somewhere, it’s very unlikely that they wouldn’t have a problem with sitting or standing on a train that’s stranded and doesn’t seem to be moving soon.
Just like roads, railways have signals which are traffic light devices that inform train drivers if it’s safe to advance along the tracks. Signals are positioned at the beginning of each track divided into sections to ensure that trains don’t hit each other. In a particular section, only one train should be in service. Sometimes these systems breakdown and the signal turns red and that’s what train drivers see causing them to stop the train. Signals turn red because of problems with track circuits and axle counters. Track circuits are electrical devices used to determine which track sections are occupied by trains. Axle counters are devices that detect the passing of a train between two points on a track. If anything goes wrong with these devices, it’s not safe for a train to proceed. And if trains don’t proceed on their proper schedule, things could get hectic really quickly. And people shouldn’t have to continuously pay for commutes that are twice as long than usual.
If passengers have to deal with the annoyance of trains delays due to signal problems, they should at least know the reasons why these signals fail. The subway uses the same century old technology, more specifically signaling system that was installed years ago. The way the system operates hasn’t appropriately changed since it’s establishment. This results in trains being held in stations longer than intended. It shouldn’t take as long as it takes sometimes for trains to start moving again. The proper maintenance that track circuits and axle counters need to function efficiently is not being provided to the right extent. Things such as electrical supply faults, track circuit failures, broken rail joints, blown signal lamps, or train stop faults which are referred to as signal problems can be prevented if more track work gets done.
Other than train track issues, safety rules and changes to the signal system are also reasons for long lasting delays. The MTA made decisions that they thought would bring safety to workers and passengers but only brought misery. New rules for track work were adopted. These rules include extended safety zones and setup times. Train drivers are required to slow down at certain points and this affects neighboring trains because they start to get close to each other and have no choice but to stop so they don’t clash. This associates with the decision to increase the amount of space that is required between trains. The signals that were installed to make this happen slowed trains down even more than intended. It’s very important to protect workers and passengers but it would also be relieving if ways to avoid delays were in action.