Re­port shows NJ Tran­sit not close to mak­ing safety dead­line

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - By David Porter

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.

AP PHOTO/JULIE JACOBSON

New Jersey Tran­sit pas­sen­gers board a train

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