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NJ TRANSIT BACK ON SCHEDULE

NEWARK, NJ, July 30, 2003 – Working around the clock, Amtrak work crews have restored service on all four tracks just west of Metropark Train Station on the Northeast Corridor. As a result, all Northeast Corridor service is back on schedule as of 12 noon today.

“To call July a rough month for our customers would be an understatement,“ said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George D. Warrington. “Our customers are understandably frustrated and I agree with them that our actions going forward will be the best evidence of our commitment to do better.”

Last night’s Amtrak overhead wire incident stranded nine NJ TRANSIT Northeast Corridor trains in the immediate area of the incident and impacted more than 70 others that were scheduled to operate along the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line. As a result, NJ TRANSIT implemented an emergency response plan that included:

  • Dispatching dozens of NJ TRANSIT managers to key stations along the Northeast Corridor where passenger impacts were the greatest including Penn Station New York, Newark Penn Station, Metropark, Rahway and Trenton.
  • Directing nearly 100 NJ TRANSIT and private carrier buses to Newark Penn Station, Metropark Station and all stations west of Metropark to transport customers.
  • Implementing a cross-honoring program, allowing impacted customers to use their rail passes or tickets on NJ TRANSIT or private carrier buses.
  • Dispatching rescue trains to key stations to assist passengers.
  • Making frequent announcements, with the best information available from Amtrak, at stations and on board trains.
  • Regularly updating traffic agencies and the media regarding service delays.

At 7:50 last night, one Northeast Corridor track was restored to service, allowing extremely limited train service to operate through the affected area. At 5:31 a.m. today, a second track was restored to service. A third track returned to service at 6:40 a.m. The fourth and final track became available for service at 10:47 a.m. today.

Last night, more than 70 NJ TRANSIT trains were cancelled or delayed – averaging 90 minutes, with one train delayed up to five hours – due to the downed electrical wires. This morning, 27 trains were cancelled or experienced delays of 20-30 minutes on average due to the downed wire problem. More than 84,000 passengers ride Northeast Corridor trains each weekday – including 25,000 during the morning rush hour and 25,000 during the evening rush hour.

“While the official cause of last night’s wire problem is still being determined, it is obvious that Amtrak’s decades-old backlog of deferred maintenance is not helping service reliability,” said Warrington. “Adequate federal investment in the Northeast Corridor infrastructure has never been more critical.”

At approximately 6:35 last night, the electrical arm of a westbound Amtrak train got caught up in overhead wires as it was traveling between Metropark and Metuchen stations. Additional wires were also torn down during the incident, initially closing down all four tracks in the area and causing delays for thousands of NJ TRANSIT rail customers last night and this morning.

Further compounding the commute this morning, contractor installation of NJ TRANSIT train dispatching software caused signal system failures on the North Jersey Coast, Raritan Valley and Main/Bergen County lines, slowing the commute on those lines an average 20-30 minutes for 29 trains.

Last week, NJ TRANSIT announced that all customers with July monthly rail passes are eligible for a 15 percent refund on their tickets due to the extensive delays. NJ TRANSIT distributed “July 2003 Special Refund Request Forms” on its trains Monday and will distribute them again tomorrow, explaining the refund policy. Passengers can also download the form off the NJ TRANSIT website (www.njtransit.com).

For further information, riders in North Jersey can call NJ TRANSIT between 6 a.m. and midnight at 1-800-772-2222 or at 973-762-5100 from out of state. In South Jersey, riders may call NJ TRANSIT between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. at 1-800-582-5946 or at 215-569-3752 from Pennsylvania. For persons with hearing impairments, the number is 1-800-772-2287.

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