NJ Transit confident PTC installation will meet Dec. 31 deadline
Commuters could face a challenging train ride into New York if NJ Transit doesn't meet an end of the year deadline to complete installation of an emergency braking system known as positive train control but the agency is confident the job will be finished on time.
The Federal Railway Administration in a progress report says NJ Transit is the only one of 17 railroads at risk of missing the deadline to install the braking system that is supposed to prevent runaway trains. NJ Transit failed to meet the initial 2018 deadline and was given until Dec. 31 of this year to finish the job.
Failure to finish could mean that NJ Transit trains would not be allowed to enter New York Penn Station via the Northeast Corridor.
Terry Fetters, the project manager of the project for contractor Parsons told NJ Transit's board of directors during its Nov. 12 meeting that they are on target to complete the project on time. He said that 80% of the extended revenue service demonstration, or running equipped trains on regular lines, is complete.
The progress report by the FRA tells a different story and said only 48% of the line’s 375.9 PTC mandated route miles are complete.
NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith told New Jersey 101.5 in a statement that they are confident that Parsons will finish the project on schedule.
"NJ Transit continues to work closely with the FRA as we advance our PTC project toward full implementation by December 31. Parsons, our PTC contractor, provided a status update at the NJ TRANSIT Board Meeting last Thursday that illustrated a timeline to full implementation by the end of the year and we intend to hold them fully accountable to meeting that deadline," spokesman Jim Smith told New Jersey 101.5 in a statement.
As an earlier PTC deadline loomed in 2018 FRA administrator Ronald Batory said that NJ Transit trains would likely not be stopped from entering New York Penn but the railroad would be fined daily until the work was done. The FRA said the fine would be just over $29,000 per day.
Amtrak, which owns and operates New York Penn Station, is optimistic the deadline will be met.
"We continue to collaborate with NJT on their implementation of PTC and while work remains, good progress is being made," Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said in a statement.