N.J. Transit Restores Pre-Sandy NY Rail Service Jan. 14Terrence Dopp
New Jersey Transit said its commuter-train service into New York will be fully restored as of Jan. 14, 11 weeks after Hurricane Sandy destroyed rail cars and tracks and brought the system to a standstill.
The agency, which operates the nation’s largest statewide mass-transit network, will add nine trains on the North Jersey Coast Line, bringing the total to 101 as compared with 114 before Sandy struck Oct. 29. Systemwide, the agency will reach 94 percent of pre-storm levels, operating 658 of 700 weekday trains, it said in a statement today.
“It’s critical in the sense that we’re able to say we’re at pre-Sandy levels into New York Penn” Station, Executive Director James Weinstein said in an interview. “That commuter shed is our largest. It accounts for about 80,000 commuters a day.”
Sandy washed out some of the system’s 500 miles of track, brought down overhead wires and flooded control points. That created a commuting nightmare as managers jury-rigged a collection of buses and ferries. The coastal line was completely knocked out of service as ballast stones were washed from under rails and a drawbridge suffered damage.
The agency continues to use diesel trains instead of faster electric-powered cars in and out of Hoboken, mostly along the Gladstone branch of the Morris & Essex lines, while it repairs the Mason substation and overhead wires at the Hoboken terminal. Weinstein said that work should be complete within six to eight weeks.
Fixing that facility, along with the Meadows Maintenance Complex in Kearny which suffered heavy damage, are the biggest hurdles to full restoration of service, Weinstein said.
Starting next week, the agency will also add trains on the Morris & Essex, Montclair-Boonton, Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines. New timetables will be posted at the agency’s website.