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Historic Rail Service Will Be Phased In

NEWARK, NJ, SEPTEMBER 17, 2002 -- What is being billed as a new rail network for the State of New Jersey, relief for rail congestion and a catalyst for economic development, NJ TRANSIT announced today a phased-in plan to open the Secaucus Transfer Station.

The new station, a $450 million project, located in the Meadowlands at the intersection of the Northeast Corridor and Main Lines, unifies 11 of NJ TRANSIT's 12 rail lines and transforms NJ TRANSIT's rail operations. It creates the foundation for the Corporation to launch into the next generation of transportation services that includes the purchase of bi-level rail cars, expanding parking throughout the system and aggressively pursuing the construction of new rail tunnels beneath the Hudson River.

The full opening of the Secaucus Transfer Station hinges on the completion of several critical projects, including the restoration of PATH service to lower Manhattan. The phased in plan begins in September 2003, with an anticipated full opening by winter 2003/2004, approximately when PATH service to lower Manhattan is restored. Without the restoration of that PATH service, the full operation of the transfer at Secaucus during the weekday peak period is currently projected to produce unacceptable crowding conditions on trains operating on the Northeast Corridor to and from Penn Station New York.

"The opening of Secaucus will revolutionize the New Jersey commuter rail system and serve as an economic driver for Bergen County and the surrounding region," said NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman and State Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox. "The Secaucus Transfer will create new intrastate and interstate markets -- giving people another transportation alternative as they travel to New York, Newark, Trenton, Bergen County, the Meadowlands, the Jersey Shore, Newark International Airport and a host of other popular destinations. It also delivers more service and more seats to the NJ TRANSIT rail system to reduce the number of standees on trains, something that is already underway."

"This announcement followed a thorough top-to-bottom review of critical path projects that are required to support the Secaucus Transfer Station," said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George D. Warrington. "We have literally squeezed out every possible alternative to open the station as quickly as possible while still providing reliable service to our customers."

"Orange and Rockland County residents have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the Secaucus Transfer Station because it will vastly improve their travel time to midtown Manhattan," said Metro-North President Peter A. Cannito. "During the months ahead, Metro-North and NJ TRANSIT will continue to work together to successfully implement service improvements that are made possible by the opening of Secaucus."

While the opening of the transfer station is not scheduled to begin until 2003, NJ TRANSIT has already started to make investments to increase rail capacity for all rail customers and will continue to implement increases during the next 18 months to support the new service.

The enhanced services include:

  • An additional 14 peak period trains daily to and from Penn Station New York and Newark on the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line starting in September 2002 through the fall of 2003. This change represents a 20 percent to 25 percent increase from the current 64 trains to/from Penn Station New York during the 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. period inbound and the 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. period outbound.
  • The startup of Montclair Connection service on September 30, 2002, which will provide capacity relief to the existing MidTOWN DIRECT service on the Morris & Essex Lines.
  • An additional seven peak period trains on the Main and Bergen County Lines and additional peak period trains on the Pascack Valley Line beginning in summer 2003, contingent on the completion of the New County Road grade separation project.
  • A significant increase in off-peak midday weekday service on the Main and Bergen County lines. Off-peak service will be approximately hourly, compared to every two hours today. Once a passing siding project is completed in 2004, the Pascack Valley Line also will have the first off-peak and reverse peak service since before the 1960s.
  • Weekday and weekend Port Jervis Line service is currently being coordinated with Metro-North.
  • Weekend and holiday service on the Main/Bergen lines should nearly double to 29 trains on Saturdays and 22 trains on Sundays. Pascack Valley weekend service will be scheduled after the passing siding project is completed in 2004.

NJ TRANSIT's decision to gradually phase in service at Secaucus will facilitate a smooth and safe transition, allowing customers to get accustomed to new schedules and service patterns and the station building. Moreover, a staggered service plan will provide the time necessary to adjust service levels when PATH service is restored to lower Manhattan.

The Secaucus Transfer Station will open in the following stages:

  • Weekend service for Main Line, Port Jervis Line, North Jersey Coast Line, Northeast Corridor and MidTOWN DIRECT customers is targeted to begin on or about the Labor Day weekend 2003.
  • NJ TRANSIT will start to increase weekday service before Labor Day 2003 on the major rail lines that will serve the station -- the Main Line, the Bergen County Line, the Pascack Valley Line, the Port Jervis Line (to be coordinated with Metro-North), the Northeast Corridor and the North Jersey Coast Line. However, these trains will not stop at Secaucus until full weekday service begins.
  • Full opening of the Secaucus Transfer Station is currently scheduled to occur when PATH service to lower Manhattan is restored.
  • NJ TRANSIT will continue to evaluate all critical path projects and ridership trends to determine if additional services at Secaucus can open prior to completion of the lower Manhattan PATH station.

Executive Director Warrington noted during a presentation at today's NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors meeting that the new rail network will create a seamless, cohesive transportation system that creates new markets, stimulates job growth, generates economic development and encourages "smart growth."

The station will rev up the region as a new economic engine by:

  • Fostering the State's "Smart Growth" plan by encouraging development at and around rail stations throughout New Jersey. At the Secaucus Station, for example, a development of 3.5 million square feet of office and commercial space will mean 17,000 additional jobs at the site.
  • Providing access to more than one million jobs in midtown Manhattan.
  • Opening access to 60,000 jobs in downtown Newark and 25,000 jobs at Newark International Airport and midtown Manhattan for 306,000 households in towns with train stations in Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties and another 100,000 households in suburban New York.
  • Creating one-seat rail access to 40,000 to 50,000 jobs in the Meadowlands for more than 1 million households. About 730,000 households would be within a one-hour rail commute of the Meadowlands from northern New Jersey. NJ TRANSIT buses will shuttle passengers to the Meadowlands from the transfer station.
  • Providing train access from Bergen and Passaic counties as well as the Meadowlands to eight major state and private universities.
  • Generating increased tourist spending at beach resorts with connected rail access for residents in Bergen/Passaic counties and two New York counties.

The Secaucus Transfer Station has been the most complex construction project in NJ TRANSIT history. The station and supporting infrastructure are built above three active rail lines, including the electrified Northeast Corridor -- one of the busiest rail corridors in the world. The construction zone along the Northeast Corridor spans two miles as Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT upgrade century-old rail infrastructure to support the new station operations.

To provide sufficient capacity for Secaucus Transfer Station service, several supporting construction projects are necessary. They are:

  • The new 50,000-square-foot 7th Avenue Concourse at Penn Station New York. The new concourse will open next Monday, September 23.
  • The new Morrisville Rail Yard in Morrisville, Pa. The first phase -- scheduled to open in August 2003 -- can accommodate up to 120 rail cars.
  • A high-density signal system on the Northeast Corridor between Newark and New York. The project will increase the number of peak period trains from 19 to 25 when completed in spring 2003.
  • Completion of a new rail operations center at the Meadows Maintenance Complex in Kearny -- where all NJ TRANSIT trains will be dispatched once it’s completed this winter.
  • Construction of the Main/Bergen Connector. The project -- scheduled for completion in August 2003 -- will allow trains on the Pascack Valley and Bergen County lines to merge onto the Main Line just north of Secaucus.
  • Construction of the New County Road Grade Separation project. The new vehicular bridge will elevate the road over the four tracks to be built as part of the Main/Bergen Connection. The project is scheduled to open in August 2003.
  • The Bergen Tunnel rehabilitation, an upgrade of the 1877 tunnel located just west of Hoboken Terminal. When the tunnel opens in spring 2003, NJ TRANSIT will be able to increase the number of trains operating in and out of the Hoboken Terminal.
  • A new rail yard at Hoboken Terminal is expected to open in spring 2003. Known as Yard B, it is an expansion of existing yard facilities at Hoboken, allowing for the storage of up to 10 additional train sets.
  • Completion of the lower Manhattan PATH station, currently scheduled for winter 2003/2004.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 761,000 daily trips on 238 bus routes, two light rail lines and 12 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 163 rail stations, 27 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.