Home 7 Line Extension Video: Arriving rails for the 7 line extension

Video: Arriving rails for the 7 line extension

by Benjamin Kabak

As we near the final 18-24 months of construction on the 7 line extension, the MTA is rapidly moving forward with some of the last elements of the project. Yesterday, the authority posted a video providing a behind-the-scenes look at the delivery of the rails. Their explanation offers us an update on the project as well:

The 7 Extension Project, now 65 percent complete, has just received its first set of rails.

Each rail delivered to the extension site is 390 feet in length and weighs approximately 15,000 pounds. Each delivery consists of only four rails because of their weight. The rails are delivered with a work train leaving the Linden Shop in Brooklyn. The trip takes about 48 hours from loading to unloading because it only travels during the midnight shift in order to avoid interrupting passenger service.

The first of sixteen deliveries left the Linden Shop on April 30 headed for the Grand Concourse Yard (via the 4 line) where it laid up for the day. The next day, the work train traveled via the D line and south of 34th Street, switched tracks and came back north on the F line. From there, it crossed over at Queens Plaza to the N line, and then switched to the 7 line to Times Square.

As for the overall project, structural work at the future 34th Street Station is now complete. Work also began in September on the project’s last major contract. This systems contract includes rail track, all mechanical, electrical and related systems throughout the tunnels, station, ventilation buildings and the main subway entrance at 34th Street. Completion of this contract is the last piece needed to initiate service on the 7 line Extension.

Even as this project nears its completion, I am still reminded of missed opportunities. Not construction a station or even a shell at 41st St. and 10th Ave. remains one of the more inexplicably short-sighted moves made by the City and MTA in recent decades. Perhaps though the 7 line will one day reach the western parts of Chelsea. That won’t make up for the missing stop near Hell’s Kitchen, but it would bring train service to an inaccessible part of Manhattan.

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Brian May 11, 2012 - 1:10 am

4 rails delivered once a week on a trip that takes 48 hours to complete. There HAS to be a more efficient way of doing this.

Thom May 11, 2012 - 2:33 am

Barge to the far West Side?

Matthias May 11, 2012 - 3:33 pm

Then there is the problem of getting them into the tunnel…

al May 11, 2012 - 9:15 pm

There are the access shafts along 11th Ave.

There is also another method.

Google Map: 40.743034,-73.946539

It is part of a LIRR Arch St Shops and Yard facility. Get a heavy rail flatcar delivery of 39′ rail segments in a flat cars and a heavy crane. Get a work train with a locomotive, flat cars and a crane car to the Flushing Line tunnel portal. Transfer rail from the freight car to the work train . You can load 15,000-40,000 lbs of rail on each rail car. Move the work train to Times Sq and offload the rail in the tunnel beyond Times Sq. Move a electric rail welder to the tunnel too. Weld the rail together and move it down the tunnel.

It is something you can do overnight when you have 20 min headways that will allow for crane operation at the tunnel portal.

al May 11, 2012 - 9:25 pm

You need at least 20 shipments with the current method. With the proposed Arch St yard method, you need 10, maybe 5.

ahblid May 11, 2012 - 2:34 am

The “Authority” needs to learn how they actually did move those rails, because as described the movement isn’t possible. The F line doesn’t go to Queens Plaza. It misses it by maybe a 1/4 mile to the east, basically joining the Queens Blvd line at 36th Street. And the N line also does not connect to Queens Plaza, it connects to Queensboro Plaza which is above ground and well above the underground Queens Plaza station. Queensboro Plaza is also where the #7 connects to the N; not at Queens Plaza. There has to be some extra movements and switching in between, including a run on the R line to get to the N line.

One wonders why they didn’t just leave Linden on the L line; run out to Broadway Junction; where they can then connect to the J line and eventually to the M line just down the road at Myrtle where the M joins the J. Then just follow the M in Manhattan until you get to Queens Plaza, before switching to the R and eventually the N. Seems much easier, fewer reversing movements, and no need to run all the way up to the Bronx and spend the night.

throcko May 11, 2012 - 9:04 am

I wondered about that route–it definitely didn’t sound complete. It includes so many sharp curves–how does a train loaded with 390-foot rails negotiate them?

SomeGuy32 May 11, 2012 - 9:19 am

Why didn’t they use the L/J/M line you suggested?

1) That trip couldn’t take place in one night – and they don’t have any yards along that route to store the trains.

2) Going up the M doesn’t actually solve anything in the Queens Plaza area. With both the F and the M – you have to get to 36th St before reversing direction and changing tracks onto the R, going thru Queens Plaza towards the 60th St tunnels, then reversing once again once you merge with the N tracks, then switching onto the 7 tracks after Queensboro Plaza, then reverse again.

Plus I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some problem using the
Williamsburg Bridge or those El tracks in Brooklyn.

Too bad there isn’t a rail connection between the N line and the Bay Ridge line near 8th ave or ft hamilton pkwy – that would’ve made the trip much easier.

throcko May 11, 2012 - 10:17 am

What do you mean? The N (Sea Beach) merges with the R on 4 Av at 59 St in Brooklyn. However, the train was starting at the Linden Yard, so that is irrelevant.

SomeGuy32 May 11, 2012 - 11:22 am

i was talking about the old LIRR Bay Ridge line that’s used for cargo (and is directly connected to the Linden Yard)

ahblid May 11, 2012 - 10:57 am


I could buy the idea that perhaps the train might be too heavy, but for the fact that they ran in on the 3 line’s elevated structure and the N & 7’s elevated structure.

As for the yards, if indeed things were taking that long that they needed to overnight someplace, they can just run right out the M line to the Jamaica yard to pause for the night. It’s certainly closer to Linden than any yard in the Bronx.

Finally, coming off the M line into Queens Plaza you have access to the layup track just east of Queen Plaza that they used to turn the G on years ago. Coming off the F line, you are past that layup track.

SomeGuy32 May 11, 2012 - 11:40 am

The J Train El line is much older than the rest of the system (mostly built in the 1880s)

SomeGuy32 May 11, 2012 - 11:47 am

and there is no need to use that former G layup track (which may not even be long enough) – just switch onto the eastbound R track, and go the ‘wrong way’ to the tunnel – then switch directions again. (that’s why they were doing this overnight)

Matthias May 11, 2012 - 3:37 pm

This could be why the F has been running local overnight.

Matthew May 11, 2012 - 10:44 am

They missed two connections. It’s not the F, it’s the M from 34th to Queens Plaza, then the R to the 60th St tunnel, then the N to Queensboro Plaza.

Yes, it is a lot of reversing movements, but there are no direct ways to get there.

SomeGuy32 May 11, 2012 - 11:33 am

F or M – it doesn’t matter – both need to get to the 36th St area to turn around onto the R. (Using the F potentially interrupts less service)

John-2 May 11, 2012 - 11:40 am

The train probably just reversed up the F line from 34th to 63rd and Lex, wrong-railed back onto the connection to just south of 57th St. and Seventh Avenue, and from there followed the N’s route to Queensboro Plaza.

ahblid May 11, 2012 - 10:01 pm

Actually this makes the most sense, without regard to whether one comes up the M line from Brooklyn or as the “Authority” says they come down the D and then reverse onto the F. Backing down the 63rd Street connection to the Broadway line would cause minimal disruption to the night time service.

238th May 11, 2012 - 7:02 am

Ahblid, I’m pretty sure they could not do that because the rail train was too heavy / dangerous to be allowed on Williamsburg Bridge, so they had to go through tunnels

Mike May 11, 2012 - 8:26 am

How can 390-foot rails carried on train cars fit around the many curves in the subway system? There’s nowhere for them to articulate.

Ron May 11, 2012 - 9:09 am

If you watch the video, it looks like they are laid across several trains that have special cutouts so the train moves around them. I’m surprised the length is that long, too, but I guess they are able to make it work.

Matthew May 11, 2012 - 10:46 am

The rails bend as the train travels around curves. They are also bent when they are placed in a curve and spiked down.

Think of them like a long piece of spaghetti.

Phil S. May 11, 2012 - 8:54 am

Am curious how the work train could switch from BMT/IND tracks to narrower guage 7 (IRT) track.

Ron May 11, 2012 - 9:05 am

Tracks are exactly the same size. It’s the width of the train that’s different. Work trains are sized for the numbered lines, which are more narrow and allows them to work on either division.

lawhawk May 11, 2012 - 9:55 am

Per the video (see 2:25+ of the video), the limited number of tracks delivered per shipment is due to the towing capacity of the locomotives. 15,000 pounds per track segment, 4 segments= 60,000 pounds.

That’s less than the weight of an R160 car.

So, what’s really going on? If it’s a weight limitation, wouldn’t it make sense to procure a locomotive with higher towing capacity so that they could provide a more efficient service down the road?

throcko May 11, 2012 - 10:12 am

New locomotives are being procured as we speak. Hopefully they’ll be a bit more powerful.

al May 11, 2012 - 7:59 pm

You’re forgetting 390′ rail lengths need at least 8 work car consists to fit. All cars are unpowered and towed by the locomotive. 8 IRT SMEE rail cars weight at least 560,000 lbs (or 280 tons) empty.

Clarke May 11, 2012 - 10:29 am

Where are they unloading these? It looks like a shell station––is it their provision for the 10th Ave station or a temporary build to accomodate further construction?

Matthew May 11, 2012 - 10:48 am

They extended the tracks from Times Square west a couple of weekends ago. The rail train is parked on those new tracks and unloading in the new tunnel.

Clarke May 11, 2012 - 11:21 am

I understand that, but does there not seem to be some sort of platform there (see 2:12). That’s not 34th St Station or Times Square is it?

Matt May 11, 2012 - 2:25 pm

Anyone know why they couldn’t load up in Corona Yard?

al May 11, 2012 - 8:08 pm

Linden Yards have access to the national rail network (LIRR Bay Ridge). Corona Yard doesn’t unless they reconfigure the LIRR tracks adjacent. Linden Yards is where they do the track rehab work too. The track panels for the Elevated lines are prefab there. Rail deliveries generally go there.

Ag May 11, 2012 - 7:46 pm

It makes no sense for them to think about Chelsea without 41st & 10th being the priority.

Spendmore Wastemore May 11, 2012 - 7:50 pm

The weight biz is bogus.

A 10 car train holds 1000+ bodies during rush hour with no issues to the equipment. If the pax were to hit Weight Watchers and get down to an average of 150lbs that’s 150,000# total. It’s hard to see how a work train made of stripped passenger + rugged freight cars can’t handle more_ than that. What, would the tires blow out? There are no hills, only the barest of gradients, and those could be taken with a running start if need be. I’ll bet a Benjamin that a 10 car train can make one 100 mile run loaded with 250,000 lbs total without breaking anything.

It’s also hard to see how a trip of not more than 25 miles truly needs more than the 6 late night hours available on one shift.

al May 11, 2012 - 8:19 pm

The work train had their motors stripped out. Its 8 converted R21, R22, and R17 hauled by a locomotive. There isn’t a 3rd rail beyond Times Sq at this point either.


Take a look.

Spendmore Wastemore May 11, 2012 - 8:15 pm

Just watched the video. I see they claim the limit is the loco’s towing capacity.

So throw a loco on the back, as they do with freight trains.

Or double them up.

Or pedal harder.

Or do anything other than wasting 500 hours and two dozen train trips for a job that could be done in one weekend.

John Paul N. May 12, 2012 - 3:51 am

After depositing its load, the work train needs to go back to Linden Yard. Hopefully it could take the shorter route.

So if the rails on the Flushing Line need to be replaced, is this also the procedure that would be undertaken?

With the SAS, it feels like this process would be significantly shorter, if it uses the L/J/M route.

al May 12, 2012 - 11:20 am

It depends. This is the route they chose for continuous welded rail. Moving 39′ rail lengths on a flatcar or crane car has fewer constraints. Prefab track panels for elevated track renewal goes from the Linden Yards to site via tractor trailer flatbed and lifted into place via crane.


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