Automated Train Identification and Train Position Monitoring at New York City Transit

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, technology - intelligent transport systems, technology - automatic vehicle monitoring, planning - service improvement


Subway, New York City Transit (NYCT), Service disruption, Service improvement, Real time tracking


Like any legacy subway system that first opened in the early 1900s, the New York City subway system operates using technology that dates from many different eras. Although some of this technology may be outdated, efforts to modernize are often hindered by budgetary limits, competing priorities, and managing the tradeoff between short-term service disruptions and long-term service improvements. At New York City Transit (NYCT), the locations of all trains on all lines are not visible to any one person in any one place and, for much of the system, train locations can only be seen at field towers for the handful of interlockings in its operational jurisdiction as result of the legacy signal system, which may come as a surprise to many daily commuters or personnel at newer metros. In 2019, developers at NYCT gained full access to the legacy signal system’s underlying track circuit occupancy data and developed an algorithm to automatically track trains and match these data with schedules and manual dispatchers’ logs in real time. This data-driven solution enables real-time train identification and tracking long before a full system modernization could be completed. This information is being provided to select personnel as part of a pilot program via several different tools with the aim of improving service management and reporting.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.