AN $809m capital programme for the PATH metro network was approved by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey board of directors on September 10. It is the Port Authority’s biggest single investment in PATH since it was acquired from the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad 41 years ago.

The biggest element is the purchase of 246 new cars to replace vehicles more than 30 years old. Another 94 cars bought in 1986 will be given a mid-life overhaul, and the Harrison rolling stock workshop will be renovated. Design proposals for the cars will be invited in October, and they are expected to enter service between the end of 2006 and September 2010.

The package also includes funding for the development and engineering design of a new signalling system, replacing equipment up to 90 years old. Proposals will be invited next year, with practical demonstrations planned by mid-2006. Procurement and installation of the signalling will form a separate contract.

The car replacement strategy began in the mid-1990s but was delayed by the September 11 terrorist attacks and a weak economy, which reduced ridership. PATH expects to carry 54 million passengers this year, compared with 74 million in 2000. This should increase following the opening of a temporary station at the World Trade Center site in November.