Take the A train? Try again in 2010.

Some homeless guy managed to break into a high-security yet abandoned control room in the New York subway system, and started a fire to keep warm.

The blaze knocked out more than 600 relays and switches, and as a result it will be three to five years before the A and the C trains are back up to full capacity.

Excuse me? Five years? Five fucking years because some morons went with a custom set of relay switches decades ago and nobody has any good idea if the system can be repaired?

And there are dozens of such relay rooms throughout the hundreds of miles of subway stations, just waiting for another dumbass to cripple the system? Holy fuck, we’re screwed.

They should fine him for the cost of the repairs.

And you thought fighting for space on the Express was bad before!
Can I interest you in a flail, perhaps a stout cudgel? I hear they’re going to be all the rage.

He’s a bum. What are they going to do? Throw him in prison where he’ll be warm and get 3 squares?

Yeah I live on the G, but I take the A or C (whichever comes first) to get to it. I’m surprised that they estimate 3-5 years, because they recovered from 9/11 faster then that. Why so long?

Does the phrase “homeless” mean nothing to you? :smack:

The man can’t make a down-payment on chewing gum, how’s he gonna pay for this?

Gonna garnishee his wages? :rolleyes: Gonna re-possess his refrigerator box?

It makes no sense whatsoever to fine him. No can squeeze blood from turnip!

Nobody broke into the control room. The fire was set near the control room and entered it; in fact, it took the firefighters quite a while to bust down the door after they were sure the power had been shut off. Most of the fire in the room was actually caused by a couple burning cables which caused short circuits and arcing. (There is a lot of very high current in those rooms. )

Dude, it’s not like you can get this shit at Home Depot. We’re talking about one of the world’s most complex railroad systems here, not a busted toilet. Most of those relays and stuff date back to the 1930s. Doing the actual repair work is not complicated, but building all the replacement parts will be.

Eh, the subway has survived similar disasters before. Whole sections of tunnel were destroyed when the WTC fell; after a few weeks and some new routings service was mostly restored. The stations were rebuilt in under a year. This is a much more complex repair job, but it’s one that can be done incrementally and will most likely not take as long as they’re saying.

It won’t be 3-5 years. They’re just *saying[/] 3-5 years to scare City Hall into giving them enough extra cash to fix it fast. $10 says the relay will be back in place - probably computerized - by June.

I obviously don’t know a fucking thing about the Subway because this has me baffled as well. I cannot conceive of it taking years to replace a switching station the size of a small kitchen.

I suspect that whoooshing noise isn’t the A train going by.

Technology from the 1930’s? Can’t they go disassemble a gameboy and use that instead? What the fuck takes 5 years?

Part of it might be the fact that this isn’t a private company with profits on the line. If you can get money just by taking it, why should you operate efficiently?

Of course Lib, those private companies who run rail systems are just great at it too.

Ah the ghost of Amtrak future!

I can easily see that, if the electronic equipment that was destroyed was old enough, for a variety of reasons:
[li]Parts. In addition to those specific parts not being made any more, those kinds of parts may not be made. Think some kinds of vacuum tubes, “diodes” in the days before silicon, etc. There are components out there where the factories and manufacturing equipment just don’t exist any more. Hell, even the circuit boards are gonna be different–it’s not like they had printed circuit boards in the 30’s.[/li][li]Education. A 55 year old EE would have been gone to school in 1970. Between the 1930’s and the 1970’s there were some major changes in electronics: transistors, electronic digital logic, computers, and lots of other stuff was invented. An EE designing a circuit in 1930 would have likely picked used techniques and paradigms that a modern EE wouldn’t have a clue about. Ask a recent EE grad to look at a circuit featuring a triode and be prepared to get asked “What’s a triode?”[/li][li]Design methods. The way circuits and such are designed today are very different then back then. Plans for the original equipment would have been hand-drawn; today, especially in the electronics world, that’s unheard of. It’s not like they’re gonna be able to fire up Orcad and click the “Import 1930’s-Style Circuit Schematics” button. Of course, this is assuming they even HAVE the original schematics. Is the company that did the original circuit still in business? If so, do they keep records from over 70 years ago? Far younger schematics have been lost…[/li][li]Design standards. It’s likely that safety standards and such have changed over the last 70 years. This may necessitate an additional layer of design and analysis that has to be done.[/li][/ol]
Given that all those obstacles have to be overcome without causing any more damage or impact to the existing system, I have no problem believing that it’s gonna be a major headache to rebuild that thing.

Metacom - that’s why it would be easier to replace the whole thing with a modern, computerized system instead of rebuilding something obsolete.

We can rebuild it: better. Faster. Stronger.

A 1930s style death relay?

Shit, in 5 years I could rebuild it better, faster, and stronger.

That doesn’t really help any of the obstacles I just mentioned, save the first. And it introduces all-new obstacles. If you decide to rebuild from scratch, and you want it to work correctly with the rest of the system, you need to understand exactly what it is you’re replacing actually did. That can be a much harder problem then simply rebuilding something. You’re still gonna need to understand the systems it interfaced with. You’re going to need to understand how the obsolete components it was composed of behaved, even moreso then if you were simply re-creating it. You’re going to need to either study the old system in detail, or reverse-engineer it based on the other control rooms. Neither of those is going to be trivial, for all the reasons I outlined in my last post.

Replacing it with a modern, computerized system is a massive chunk of work. Coming up with a custom computerized control instrument that’s going to be interfaced to stuff designed in the 30’s and that’s going to be situated in a tough environment (heat, vibration, humidity, etc.) is gonna involve circuit designers, software designers, whoever-the-people-are-who-design-cabinet-enclosures, etc. And it’s going to need to be prototyped, that prototype is going to need to be tested and debugged (both the hardware and the software), then it’s going to need to be built, then installed, etc.

Not trivial.

the 5 year estimate will probably involve upgrading not just that particular control room, but all the surrounding controls, switches and systems, as opposed to the 9/11 damage, which was just the rebuilding of that particular section.

Does anyone know if there was damage done to the line after the 96 ( ? ) truck bombing?

Is that mental peristalsis, or do you have the knowledge and/or experience needed to make a statement like that?