Last-minute cancellations the new normal for NJ Transit?
NEWARK — The daily, last-minute cancellations of NJ Transit trains could become the new normal this fall, according to its executive director as the railroad canceled still more trains on Wednesday morning.
A half-dozen trains alone were canceled Wednesday morning by 6 a.m., to nearly match the number of trains canceled during all of Tuesday's morning commute. There was also a 40-minute delay on the Raritan Valley Line due to a male fatally struck on the tracks around 1:15 a.m.
The train was being moved into position for the morning commute and only carried a three person crew.
Six trains were canceled on Tuesday afternoon, plus the Princeton Dinky line was suspended because of a tree that fell on the overhead wires. The Dinky was running normally on Wednesday.
NJ Transit blamed Tuesday morning's delays on mechanical issues, equipment shortage, engineer availability, and installation of Positive Train Control equipment.
Executive Director Kevin Corbett said the staffing shortages should ease once vacation season ends, but he added that the need to install PTC by year's end will still be disruptive.
"To get these numbers up with PTC it's going to be a rough fall, no question about it," he said. "But it will gradually get better."
Corbett said he has had "strong talks" with leaders of the engineers' union about the recent absences. A spokesman for the locomotive engineers' union didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
The ten trains canceled on Wednesday as of 8:45 a.m., according to a count of each line's Twitter account:
- 7:43 a.m. (#1156) from Suffern
- 5:52 a.m. (#50) from Port Jervis
- 5:48 a.m. (#1103) from Hoboken
- 7:10 a.m. (#0208) from Montclair State
- 6:12 a.m. (#0209) from Hoboken
Morris & Essex Line
- 7:41 a.m. (#0808) from Lake Hopatcong
- 5:23 a.m. (#0300) from Summit
North Jersey Coast Line
- 5:53 a.m. (#3310) from South Amboy
Raritan Valley Line
- 9:06 a.m. (#5415) from Newark Penn Station
- 7:17 a.m. (#5420) from Raritan due to the earlier fatal trespasser strike
Secaucus Junction will remain a warm place, as two air conditioner compressors are having "mechanical difficulties," according to NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith.
"Our vendor is actively working on correcting this problem as quickly as possible," Smith said in an email.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.