A report by the Federal Railroad Administration finds NJ Transit has installed so-called positive train control on less than 10 percent of its locomotives and cab-controlled cars, and most NJ Transit employees have not been trained to use it.

The transit corporation is required to complete installation of the safety system, which can prevent runaway trains from crashing, by Dec. 31.

If NJ Transit does not install PTC by the deadline, it could be bad news for tens of thousands of commuters.

During testimony before the Congressional Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in Washington on Thursday, Amrak’s CEO Richard Anderson said that other railroads that operate over Amtrak tracks, such as NJ Transit, would not be allowed to do so without the proper braking systems.

NJ Transit’s Northeast Corridor line trains run on Amtrak tracks into New York Penn Station.

“There will be carriers over which we operate who appear unlikely to achieve sufficient progress to apply for an alternative PTC implementation schedule by year’s end. For any such route segments, Amtrak will suspend operations until such time as the carrier becomes compliant with the law.”

Before the Amtrak testimony was given, incoming New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti hedged on whether NJ Transit would meet the deadline.

“Certainly our goal is to make the deadline. I’m not going to sit here today and tell you definitively that we’re going to be perfect," she said.

“We’re putting in place the steps. We have great senior leaders at Transit that are working to put the plan in place to get us where we need to be.”

Gutierrez-Scaccetti said NJ Transit has started testing PTC on rail cars, but “when you work with software — I don’t care if it’s train software, toll software — there’s end-to-end testing to make sure everything works correctly. That’s what we’re doing now.”

Gov. Phil Murphy said he has full confidence in the new heads of the DOT and NJ Transit.

“These folks have inherited a squad that finished in last place last year, notwithstanding really strong players day in and day out, and I don’t think that we should expect that we’ll be playing for the World Series in October."

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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