Train troubles in NYC? Time to blame Harold!


Just how do the multitude of trains crossing the East River in NYC deal with navigating the labyrinth of tracks? Turns out some guy named Harold is responsible for it all. From the NY Times this week

For decades, a standard response to delays and disruptions on passenger trains in New York City has been to blame it on Harold.

That would be the Harold Interlocking, a century-old intersection of 14 train tracks in Queens, where hundreds of trains traveling between Pennsylvania Station and points east and north are sorted out each day. The central role it plays in the life of the city is invisible to almost all New Yorkers. At least until something goes awry.

Then it could be poor Harold’s fault. Harold was incriminated again this week when officials of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that connecting the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal would take six years longer and almost $2 billion more than originally estimated. Harold again was the culprit. Tunneling beneath it and rearranging the spaghetti-like web of overhead wires and other equipment there is proving more daunting than expected, they said.

As for who Harold really is, no one knows. Poor guy.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

One Comment

  1. Google knows Harold:

    Famous Long Island Rail Road HAROLD interlocking, named for Harold Avenue, is the main pre/post sorting interlocking for trains moving from the 4 East River tunnels onto the 6 track LIRR main Line. Also handles movements of Amtrak trains to the Hellgate Line. Tower was rebuilt in 1987 and put under remote control in 1994 with the opening of the PSCC. Tower is opened on an as-needed basis.

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