Rail service on NJ Transit’s Atlantic City Line and Princeton Branch dinky will be restored May 12 – nearly two weeks sooner than had been scheduled, though still more than four months after some expected.

NJ Transit will also add additional morning rush-hour service between Atlantic City and Philadelphia.

Service was suspended on the lines in September to make it possible for NJ Transit to meet a year-end federal deadline for getting the equipment for the positive train control safety system installed. While the goal was met, NJ Transit then kept the lines closed longer, to the surprise of critics in South Jersey.

“We know this was an inconvenience to commuters, and we thank them for their patience throughout the installation and inspection process,” Murphy said, in announcing at the NJ TransAction conference in Atlantic City that regular service would start 12 days sooner than the previous stated goal of May 24.

“This will ensure that our residents can get to work or to school with less stress or less inconvenience and a far greater level of safety,” he said.

NJ Transit Director Kevin Corbett said the temporary closure of the Atlantic City Line and Princeton dinky was the toughest decision of his agency’s 2018 push to meet the positive train control deadline.

“And I do want to thank all our A.C. customers and Princeton customers for their patience and understanding,” Corbett said.

Murphy said that perhaps more importantly, NJ Transit will add a second morning rush-hour train to Philadelphia. Three trains will now arrive at 30th Street Station before 9 a.m. weekdays – scheduled at 5:50, 7:21, 8:33 – followed by ones due in before noon, at 10:01 a.m. and 11:52 a.m.

“Creating a new option for riders and closing a gap in service that all-too-often left commuters who may have been just a minute or two late for their train to sit trackside in frustration for two hours or more until the next one showed up, and then get to work late,” Murphy said.

Corbett and Murphy said the schedule change was made after feedback from customers and businesses at information sessions in Atlantic City, Lindenwold and Cherry Hill.

Murphy noted that the line will also be fully operational before the Memorial Day holiday weekend and summer ahead, providing another option for getting to the Shore from eastern Pennsylvania.

The Princeton Branch schedule is described as similar to its operation prior to the suspension.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., R-Union, said Murphy and NJ Transit should now also give Raritan Valley Line commuters a solid timeline for when direct rail service to Manhattan will be restored. It was also suspended in early September, with commuters required to switch trains to make it into New York.

"After six months, the governor should be able to provide us with some kind of answer," Kean said.

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Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com