Home Second Avenue Subway Video: Second Ave. Subway plays host to test trains

Video: Second Ave. Subway plays host to test trains

by Benjamin Kabak

Via the tireless Max Diamond (better known to the internet as DJ Hammers) comes proof that yes, Virginia, there is a Second Ave. Subway. The eagle-eyed videographer spotted a series of test trains running north past the 63rd St. station on Lexington, a future transfer point between the Second Avenue’s Q train and the F train. Take a peek:

The test trains are a key element in prepping the line for its eventually opening as they run to ensure proper clearances in stations and tunnels (including gaps between the train and platform, as we saw at South Ferry in 2009), a functional signal system and a power stress test, as one worker noted on Instagram. This is certainly good news for those New Yorkers, like my dad, who have long since stated that they won’t believe the Second Ave. Subway exists until they actually ride a train, but it’s not clear if this good news for the MTA’s slowly shrinking timeline. As recently as two weeks ago, the agency’s own consultants noted that the pace of testing is still lagging behind the line’s planned opening prior to the end of 2016.

For now, though, trains are starting to roll without passengers. It’s a first step toward finalizing the first segment of a subway line over 80 years in the making.

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webster October 10, 2016 - 11:44 am

On a side note, I remember hearing about acoustics engineers they have been working with (I’m assuming this is common on new lines?) to reduce the amount of noise in the stations.

The train does seem to be quieter on the tracks. No doubt, vibrations are also minimal.

Andy October 10, 2016 - 11:46 am

Seems like they should be doing as much testing and other prep work in parallel.

I love how they put giant blocks in front of the doors. That’s a great way to prevent people from accidentally boarding.

Tower18 October 10, 2016 - 2:46 pm

I’m not sure they’re there to block the doors (since the doors don’t open anyway), though that’s a side benefit. They’re there to add substantial weight to the cars for load testing, and they’re too heavy to be lifted by people, hence they’re dropped in front of the doors.

Peter L October 10, 2016 - 12:20 pm

All a giant hoax perpetrated by … by … by … Mayor Hylan and his cronies!

Still a good sign. Means the track probably works (I see the cars were ballasted), power distribution works, comms/signaling works. At that point, you’re down to station upholstery, really.

Tim October 10, 2016 - 1:55 pm

Fire protection and ventilation systems are hte biggies left to go. Also, Station exteriors.

I live on 80th/1st, so I walk by the station entrance at 83rd every day, believe me, they’ve got a ways to go there. Bot the entrance and the ancillary across the street are in need of major cosmetic work, still.

Rich B October 10, 2016 - 12:57 pm

Test trains are great, but it’s well-known that the sticking points will be things like elevators, escalators, fire systems, and testing / integration of all of those things.

I have it on good authority that they are, in fact, exploring how they might open the line in December with one or two stations temporarily offline. Because there’s absolutely no way certain stations will be ready by the end of this year.

JEG October 10, 2016 - 1:36 pm

I’ve noted this before, but today, as for most of the last six weeks, there have been almost no contractors visible around 68th street. The exterior of the ventilation shaft is still incomplete, and it appears that no work has been done on or around the station entrances in months: no tile work, no canopy over the entrance, no work on the still incomplete escalator. It’s hard to understand why no one is around working on these things. And at the 63rd/Lexington station, the new entrances at Third Avenue, which were supposed to open in the spring are still shuttered.

Meanwhile this weekend, I overheard a contractor in the 63rd/Lexington station say that he hoped that he would work there “forever, buttoning everything up.” That certainly makes we wonder whether the general attitude is that as we get closer to finishing the project, the slower everyone works so that no one ever has to get on with finding another place to work.

bigbellymon4 October 10, 2016 - 4:00 pm

You hit the nail on the head. That is one of the many reasons why construction costs are so high in NYC. If the MTA was constantly expanding the system (IND Second system comes to mind, construction-wise), contractors probably wouldn’t act like that. PROBABLY.

tacony October 11, 2016 - 9:19 am

Um, well, I mean they could start working on SAS Phase II if the MTA and Cuomo got their acts together quicker… the contractors only need to walk a little further up the street!

BruceNY October 10, 2016 - 10:28 pm

63rd & Third entrances were supposed to open in Spring? You know they’ll drag that out until December 31st (though there were contractors working by the escalators at the southeast entrance).

Peter L October 10, 2016 - 10:00 pm

40 years ago, different city, same problem with new subway stations.


smartone October 11, 2016 - 8:56 am

Well to take a step back from all the negativism


I Never thought I would see it in my lifetime!

Hopefully the MTA will take the momentum of the excitement of this upcoming opening to aggressively push for completion of the entire line!

Spendmor Wastemor October 12, 2016 - 7:55 am

Only 100 years. This is NYC, the city that never works sleeps!

AMH October 14, 2016 - 3:43 pm

The SAS has been begun, but I wouldn’t say that it has been built.

Yea October 13, 2016 - 9:47 am

Is there any way to change the bidding so that the only entities that can bid on these contracts have to take the risk/cost of non-completion on themselves. For example, let’s say that if you want to bid on MTA work, you say you can do it for $X amount and it has to be completed by Y date. If not completed by Y date, the contractor owes $Z per month it’s overdue. The contractor would have to prove its solvency in order to bid.


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