Metro-North to withhold payments to NJ Transit over service issues

Amount being withheld to increase to 15 percent in January
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A Suffern-bound NJ Transit train, with a PTC-equipped NJ Transit cab car leading a Metro-North locomotive, arrives at Secaucus Junction, N.J., in August 2019. Metro-North, unhappy with NJ Transit service, is increasing the amount of payment it is withholding from the New Jersey agency for contract operations on two lines.
TRAINS: David Lassen

NEW YORK — Metro-North president Catherine Rinaldi is prepared to withhold payments to NJ Transit for operations on Metro-North’s Pascack Valley Line until service on the route improves, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News reports.

The newspaper reports that Rinaldi, in a letter to NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett, said her agency would begin withholding 15% of its month subsidy for NJ Transit operation of lines west of the Hudson River in New York. The three northernmost stops on the Pascack Valley Llne — Pearl River, Nanuet, and Spring Valley — are all in New York. NJ Transit also operates Metro-North’s Port Jervis line, the eight-station New York segment of a route connected to NJ Transit’s Main Line and Bergen County Line.

Failure to restore two express trains on the Pascack line, as well as increases in cancelled trains on both routes because of NJ Transit’s engineer shortage, have led to the move.

In the letter, obtained by the newspaper, Rinaldi wrote, “It is very frustrating that our riders are subjected to the same unreliable service despite the fact you have graduated several new classes of locomotive engineers in the intervening months.” NJ Transit has frequently touted its accelerated pace of engineer training, saying it will graduate six classes of new engineers by the end of 2020 [see “First NJ Transit engineer training group completes classroom instruction,” Trains News Wire, April 1, 2019].

She said that, beginning in January, Metro-North would begin withholding 5% of its payment, on top of 10% it began withholding in December 2018 for the same reason.

The money will be placed in an escrow account while the two sides discuss incentive payments in their agreement. The dollar figure involved is unknown.

NJ Transit did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

NJ Transit’s ongoing service issues have led to creation of a New Jersey Senate panel to investigate the commuter agency and seek solutions. That group held its first meeting earlier this month. [See “State senate panel holds first hearing on NJ Transit,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 14, 2019.]

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