MTA Will Raise Speed Limit On Several Queens Subway Lines

The W train stands to move faster thanks to the Save Safe Seconds campaign. Photo via the MTA/Patrick Cashin.

The W train stands to move faster thanks to the Save Safe Seconds campaign. Photo via the MTA/Patrick Cashin.

By Jonathan Sperling

Queens subway trains will soon speed up — safely, of course.

An MTA safety committee has approved a series of speed limit increases on Queens subway lines in Astoria, Forest Hills Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, meaning quicker commutes for straphangers on the E, F, M, N, R and W lines.

The announcement comes in the wake of speed limit increases at 24 subway locations citywide in 2018. The initiative, known as the Save Safe Seconds campaign, aims to safely reduce travel time for straphangers by improving platform management and raising speed limits.

In order to pinpoint areas in the system where trains can safely travel at higher speeds, a special team known as the Subway Performance Evaluation, Education and Development Unit (SPEED) was formed last summer.

The MTA said the SPEED team has traversed almost every mile of track in the subway system over the last several months, conducting various tests to determine whether or not certain segments of track might be able to support higher speeds than currently permitted, without compromising existing standards for safety, according to the MTA.

“I have directed my team to identify and resolve every root cause of delay; in doing so, we can then implement the right fix, often for little or no cost,” said NYC Transit President Andy Byford. “The SPEED Unit continues to examine hundreds of miles of track to find areas where we can safely increase speeds. Their work is absolutely essential and demonstrates that New York City Transit employees are fully committed to making tangible changes that will improve service for our customers.

Though only two Queens subway lines benefitted from the Save Safe Seconds campaign in 2018 — the M and R trains had their speeds increased from 20 to 30 mph between between 36th Street and Steinway Street stations — six Queens subway lines stand to see speed increases throughout 2019.

Speeds will double from 20 mph to 40 mph along the N/W line between the 30th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard Stations in Astoria. The N/W will also double speed from 10 mph to 20 mph when approaching and leaving the Ditmars Boulevard Station.

The R/M lines will also increase in speed from 23 mph to 30 mph between Steinway Street and 46th Street.

Finally, the E/F lines will have speed increases between Roosevelt Avenue and 71st-Continental Avenue Stations — from 35/36 mph to 45/50 mph — and at the north end of Grand Avenue-Newtown station — from 36 mph to 45 mph.