Hoboken Terminal repairs could be finished soon; Christie, Amtrak quarrel
After touring the crash area where an NJ Transit train slammed into a wall at Hoboken Terminal last September, resulting in the death of a woman and more than a hundred injuries, State Senate President Steve Sweeney D-Gloucester, and state Sen. Bob Gordon, D-Bergen, announced the concourse that has been closed off since the accident will re-open sooner than expected.
“NJ Transit has stepped it up, stepped up its game, and full ridership should be restored by June,” Sweeney said Monday.
“It’s much sooner than everyone thought. We all thought it was going to be 2019, so I take it as very positive news. Kudos to NJ Transit for moving forward, expediting the process. I was really impressed with the work that’s been done up to this point.”
It was perhaps the kindest words an elected official had to say about a transit agency on Monday.
Two derailments this month and last left NJ Transit commuters stranded or delayed for several days at a time. On Friday, an NJ Transit train got stuck in a Hudson River tunnel, leaving passengers trapped for several hours.
NJ Transit and Gov. Chris Christie have pointed the blame at Amtrak, the federally created corporation that manages the rails into New York Penn Station.
Amtrak on Monday blamed Friday's problem on a mechanical failure with the NJ Transit train.
Christie's office responded to the statement, which they called an "excuse" for its "failure to adequately maintain its facilities."
“Amtrak was responsible for two, back-to-back derailments leading up to Friday’s mess that stranded 1,200 people on a hot, arid train just outside Penn Station, New York. Today, Amtrak is trying to again divert attention from its failures by suggesting the problem may have been new equipment on the NJ Transit train, before a final determination has been made. Amtrak’s diversions offer little comfort to anyone who spent more than two hours on Friday waiting to see first responders and more than three hours waiting to be rescued. Instead of these kinds of statements Amtrak must sit down with NJ TRANSIT and the other users of Penn Station and work out contingency plans that actually get people out of disabled trains as quickly as possible.”
Sweeney on Monday called recent problems with passenger rails in New Jersey and New York "tragic."
“We need to make investments to keep these trains running on time," he said. “It’s not acceptable for people. Think of the millions of dollars every single day that are lost when trains aren’t running on time.”
The Sept. 29 crash, which remains under investigation, severely damaged part of a wall, electrical wiring inside the wall, as well as the passenger concourse roof.
Sweeney, Gordon and a group of NJ Transit officials were allowed to get an up-close look at repairs that are underway, but reporters were kept on a platform about 150 feet away, with only an obstructed view of the work that’s being done.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.