Metro-North's Newest Maintenance Shop Wins International Award for Design Excellence

The Croton-Harmon Locomotive and Coach Shop was designed for employee safety and comfort, as well as energy and operational efficiency. Now it has been recognized as the best in the world. more

Metro-North's Newest Maintenance Shop Wins International Award for Design Excellence

The facility was honored by the Brunel Awards Jury in the competition hosted by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the International Union of Railways (UIC), which jointly announced the winners from 11 nations that have been recognized for design excellence in the 2011 Edition of the Brunel Awards International Railway Design Competition.

"Metro-North needed a 21st Century facility for a 21st Century fleet and that's what we built at Harmon Yard. It's the largest engineering and construction project ever undertaken by the railroad," said Metro-North President Howard Permut. "The bright, airy, clean, 200,000-square-foot facilities replaced a dank, hundred-year-old shop that was inefficient and inadequate for its skilled workforce."

The coach and locomotive shops, each with six tracks, and the locomotive wash facility, were designed to facilitate efficient inspection, repair, maintenance and cleaning of Metro-North's large fleet of electric cars, coaches and locomotives. The 850-foot-long Coach Shop allows complete trains – a locomotive and eight coaches – to be entirely indoors – unlike the old shop that mandated open doors or split consists. A raised track gives workers access to the equipment at four levels: rooftop; car floor; ground level; and pit level.

Specialized equipment and numerous safety features enhance the efficiency of the craftsmen who work there. The primary air handling system is designed to detect diesel fumes and automatically activate exhaust fans. The shops also are served by a system of pumps that distribute service fluids such as lubricants, detergents, and rust inhibitors to each work station throughout the shops.

Compressed air also is distributed throughout. A state-of-the-art storage and retrieval system delivers parts and tracks inventory instantaneously. The shops allow for the recycling of every material that can be recycled from light bulbs and batteries to crankcase oil, which is reused on site as fuel for the building's heating system. The shops are equipped with high efficiency water systems to minimize usage. Roof top storm water is collected and treated through four 50,000-gallon oil-water separators, yielding discharge above state standards.

Metro-North's Newest Maintenance Shop Wins International Award for Design Excellence

To promote employee safety, a pedestrian bridge was added to link the shop directly to the customer overpass and rail station so workers do not have to cross live operating tracks.

The facility, which incorporates durable, low maintenance materials, is unobtrusive when viewed from neighboring residences. A modern, translucent wall panel system gives the main shop the aesthetic look of a high-end office complex rather than an industrial complex. The panels let in natural daylight, allowing shop lights to dim automatically to save electricity. Energy efficient roofing with skylights also allows the building to use 20% less energy than similar buildings.

More than 150 entries were received from railway and government organizations throughout the world that own or operate railway services and/or manage rail infrastructure.

In addition to MTA Metro-North Railroad's locomotive and coach shop, the United States had four other award winners: the Amtrak station in Wilmington, Del.; Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority stations in Fort Washington, Ambler and North Wales; the Union Station bike transit center in Washington, D.C.; and Union Pacific Railroad's heritage locomotive fleet program.

The only other nation to receive five awards was Japan.

In all, 20 projects received Brunel Awards, the highest level of recognition, while 24 others received Commendations. For complete details visit the Brunel website.

Metro-North still is in the running for the Jury Prize for overall excellence. The Jury Prize will be announced at the official award ceremony that takes place in Washington on Oct. 14, 2011. Leaders of the U.S. Department of Transportation, along with representatives of the AAR, the UIC, and the Watford Group are expected to make presentations to the winners.

The Brunel Awards competition recognizes and promotes the best in railway architecture,
engineering, landscape and environmental design, product design, locomotive and car design,
graphic arts, and corporate branding amongst the world's railways.

The Brunel Awards are sanctioned by the Watford Group of International Railway Designers, an organization founded in 1963 and composed of railway design professionals from 20 countries
in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Honorary Co-Chairs of the Brunel Awards Committee are the Hon. Joseph Szabo, FRA Administrator and AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger.

The jury was composed of international leaders from the design and railway fields chaired by
Professor Ronald Kemnitzer, FIDSA, of Virginia Polytechnic and State University in

Metro-North's Newest Maintenance Shop Wins International Award for Design Excellence

Other jurors were: Chase Rynd, CEO of the National Building Museum; Angela Brady,
President-elect of the Royal Institute of British Architects; Roy Allen, CEO of the U.S.
Transportation Technology Center; Ignacio Barron, Director of the UIC Passenger Department;
Niels Diffrient, noted American industrial designer; Pamela Loeffelman, past Vice President of
the American Institute of Architects, and Professor Lars Lallerstedt, Swedish designer and

The Brunel Awards were created in 1985 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of England's Great Western Railway designed by the renowned British architect and engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Subsequently, the competition has been held at three-year intervals rotating among the Watford member nations. The last time it was held in the U.S. was 1994.