NJ Transit adds more PTC funding, authorizes emergency planning study

New contracts will address safety system installation delays, contingencies for interruption of trans-Hudson service
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Rebuilt GP40H-2B No. 4024, an ex-Penn Central unit, pushes NJ Transit Main Line train No. 1118 out of Secaucus toward Hoboken in August 2019 afternoon. Additional PTC funds ensure that this unit will be able to operate until replacement locomotives arrive at the end of 2020.
Ralph Spielman

NEWARK, N.J. — NJ Transit’s board of directors has approved $50 million in contract amendments for its ongoing work to install positive train control, as well as awarding a contract to study new contingency plans for transit emergencies, such as the loss of trans-Hudson tunnel service.

At its Sept. 12 meeting, the board also received an update from NJT President and CEO Kevin Corbett about ongoing efforts to address the agency’s shortage of railroad engineers.

The PTC contract amendments went to HNTB, WSP, Wabtec, Meteorcomm, and Siemens. They will provide additional staffing and software updates to address the PTC installation delays throughout the 12-line statewide system, which is now just 15 months from its deadline for completion. NJ Transit is one of nine railroads that does not yet have any PTC-equipped track in revenue service, the FRA noted in a recent report. [See “Federal Railroad Administration publishes PTC updates for the second quarter,” Trains News Wire, Sept. 9, 2019.] NJ Transit is currently testing PTC equipment on a 17-mile section of its Morris & Essex line and hopes to start testing in regular service on other lines before the end of 2019.

The agency has not said how much it has spent so far on PTC, but NJ.com has reported that NJ Transit has allocated $302 million for the project to date.

NJ Transit began soliciting proposals for a revised Trans-Hudson Network and Contingency Planning Strategy in March, seeking to develop strategies to deal with emergencies such as those brought by Hurricane Sandy and the 9/11 attacks. AECOM received the $656,000 consulting contract for preliminary studies on how to deal with an extended travel disruption across the Hudson. It will seek to identify how to use all working modes of transportation to move as many riders as possible in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and Jersey, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and New York City as primary partners.

“It’s not meant to be a comprehensive Plan B,” said Corbett, “but it is looking for various aspects that are critical. We revised the plan after 2001, but that was 18 years ago, and we need a good refresh.”

The contract is expected to last for 36 months, according to NJ Transit spokesperson Lisa Torbic, in an interview with the blog Jersey Digs. Funds for the initial study are expected to come from the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund.

The board was also told that, with a class of engineer trainees having graduated in June and six more classes scheduled to graduate by December 2020, NJ Transit will in 2019 and 2020 equal the total number of graduating classes for the previous five years. Trainees participate in 24 weeks of formal classroom instruction, then 14 months of field training. Corbett told reporters after the meeting that all students are being continually trained and should be able to pass all written tests and be certified after a check ride test to meet FRA standards.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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