NJ Transit meets 2018 deadline to install Positive Train Control braking system
KEARNY — NJ Transit has met a critical deadline in its work on Positive Train Control, a federally mandated braking system authorities say might have prevented some of the train industry's deadliest crashes.
"I am pleased to announce the installation of Positive Train Control in the required 282 locomotives, cab cars and wayside installations along 326 miles of track is now done," Murphy told an event at the Meadows Maintenance Complex in Kearny on Monday.
The governor noted that NJ Transit was at just 12 percent completion of PTC installation when he took office in January. Under federal regulations, NJ Transit was required to finish installation of equipment on locomotives and cab control cars, 326 miles of wayside equipment including radios, transponders and poles, and initiate PTC testing and employee training by the end of this year.
Meeting the deadline means NJ Transit can apply for an alternative schedule to have PTC fully operational by the end of 2020, Murphy's administration said in an announcement of the milestone.
"The prior administration's efforts on PTC installation had dragged interminably for years despite everyone knowing this deadline was looming and the consequences if it was missed. But then, that administration knew they wouldn't be around for that," Murphy said.
The governor said there is still a lot of work to be done on PTC but called the milestone the "biggest mountain" to climb.
The governor said commuters may tell a difference in service because equipment that was pulled out of service for installation will be available again, but there's isn't a "magic moment" that will correct all of NJ Transit's problems.
"This is going to be an incremental step-by-step in the right direction and I'm going to stay on this like a hawk," Murphy said.
Executive Director Kevin Corbett said that the PTC installation project now goes into the testing phase in order to reach the next deadline of Dec. 31, 2020 for full certification by the Federal Railway Administration.
Murphy said that the 282 completed installations is what the FRA determined NJ Transit needed to be fully functional with PTC.
There are still 158 locomotives and cab cars that need installation, bringing the total number of vehicle installations to 440.
Several experts said PTC might have prevented the deadly crash of an NJ Transit train into a Hoboken platform, an assertion repeated by the family of a woman killed in the collision. Amtrak's failure to install PTC on its own systems also saw blame in a 2015 Philadelphia derailment that killed eight people.
Industry representatives lobbied successfully to see earlier federal deadlines for PTC installation extended to 2018 after lagging behind on installation.
Murphy said the agency would work in January to restore weekend service that had been suspended during the installation and full service to the Atlantic City and "Dinky" line in Princeton. An exact date, however, was not given.
David Matthau contributed to this report