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New York-to-Albany high-speed train given high marks in trial run

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The first of a new line of state-owned high-speed trains being built in Schenectady has made its first test run to New York City and passed muster on all systems being tested, according to the state Transportation Department.

"It went very successfully," DOT spokeswoman Melissa Carlson said in an interview with the Albany Times Union, commenting on the test run which took place Tuesday evening from the Rensselaer station to Penn Station. Everything was working, she said.

The test, which focused primarily on computer and electro-magnetic systems, was an important first operational hurdle because if all goes well with additional testing, the first train could be providing Amtrak passenger service between New York City and Rensselaer within the next few weeks, Carlson noted.

That train will be rolling again today for a test of electronics, including the cab radio.

The $74.2 million project, which originally called for having a line of new trains up and running by early 2001, has been plagued by delays stemming from unexpected costs and engineering snags.

Seven trains are being reconditioned by Super Steel Schenectady under the contract with the state.

The top speed reached during Tuesday's test run was not immediately available, but officials said they were not trying to obtain the 125 mph maximum the turboliners are being designed to achieve. That's because full high-speed operation awaits rail improvements by CSX, the owner of the tracks.

The current maximum speed on the tracks between Rensselaer and New York City is 110 mph.

The high-speed trains are being put in service with the goal of trimming 30 minutes from the trip between Albany and New York City, which is now 2 hours on most of Amtrak's scheduled runs.

According to Carlson, Tuesday's test-run focused on a number of functions including: the gas-fueled train's ability to make the transition to third-rail electrical power for the last leg of the trip into New York City below Poughkeepsie; computerized control systems; clearance of bridges and other objects near the tracks; and making sure there was no interference between electro-magnetic systems within the train and signals along the track.

Early next month, there will be "dynamic" testing of acceleration; transmission shifting; brake operations and stopping distances; wheel stability; traction and anti-lock brakes, the heat, ventilation and air conditioning system and passenger accommodations such as restroom doors.

Before many design and equipment changes were made in the last 18 months, the first train set had one secret test run, which was conducted in the middle of the night in February 2001.

Friday, August 30, 2002

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