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Croton-Harmon rail yard ’ s $760M overhaul targets efficiency


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CROTON-ON-HUDSON — Across the tracks from the Croton-Harmon train station lies the largest of Metro-North Railroad's 10 yards, where trains have been serviced for more than a century.


Now, the railroad is coming to the next phase of a $760 million rehabilitation that began in 2001, bringing natural light to the work spaces, adding longer tracks so that entire trains can be serviced at once, and raising the ground level in the south end to avoid flooding that used to require shutting the electrified third rail.


"Picture all these tracks under water," said Michael Sickenius, director of shops, yards and environment for the railroad, as he recently showed the improvements in the 100-acre yard by the Hudson River. The ground was built up, and workers added drainage.


Commuters at the Croton-Harmon station witness one of the project's improvements when conductors and engineers enter an enclosed employees-only overpass, sheltered so they can get to their lockers comfortably even in rain, snow or sleet. That's a key benefit, considering umbrellas are forbidden in railroad yards because they could block views in places where people need to be aware of everything around them.


Down that passageway and throughout the yard is an immense spread of improvements to the areas where 940 railroad employees work, refueling trains, cleaning rail car restrooms, making wheels perfectly round and fixing the electronics. The new efficiencies help the railroad maintain its on-time record of 98 percent, Metro-North President Howard Permut said.


Croton-Harmon is the yard where Metro-North usually holds an October open house, although it was canceled last year and this fall for budgetary reasons.


The work, which is mostly complete, gives the site its biggest overhaul ever.


In the 1980s, not long after Metro-North took over operations of the railroad, power was boosted at Harmon, and broken shop windows were blocked with plywood "just to keep the shop going," Sickenius said. "It had more pigeons in it than people. It was horrible."


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Well no Open house this year :)!

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