Report shows NJ Transit not close to making safety deadline
NEWARK » New Jersey Transit has installed a federally mandated emergency braking system on fewer than 10 percent of its fleet of locomotives less than nine months before a deadline to install the safeguard, according to a progress report covering the first three months of 2018.
The report filed with the Federal Railroad Administration shows the positive train control system has been installed in 35 of 440 locomotives in NJ Transit’s fleet. That’s the same number NJ Transit reported at the end of 2017.
The agency also reported 37 of 124 radio towers are fully equipped, two more than at the end of 2017. None of NJ Transit’s 11 “territories” — defined as entire track segments — has been completed, though positive train control has been tested on six miles of track in western New Jersey since the beginning of the year.
Last month, NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett said the overnight test of the system on tracks in Morris County had been successful and that he was more confident than he had been when he assumed his job in February. But he stopped short of saying NJ Transit would meet the Dec. 31, 2018 deadline.
Corbett didn’t immediately comment.
The federal government required U.S. railroads to install the emergency braking system after a 2008 commuter rail crash in California that killed 25 people. The original deadline of December 2015 was extended three years.
NJ Transit could get another two-year extension to finish installing the positive train control system if it meets certain benchmarks by the end of the year, such as installing all system hardware and completing employee training. But last month the Federal Railroad Administration sent a letter expressing concern over NJ Transit’s ability to qualify for the extension.
Corbett recently told a state legislative committee that a review conducted shortly after he took over revealed “disturbing” results, and that the contractor working on the installation had since expanded its operation facilities to try and meet the deadline.
New Jersey Transit passengers board a train