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NJ Transit train shortage and Hurricane Sandy a bad combination for commuters

njtransitlogo081610_optBY JANE WOODRUFF
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

How was your commute today? If you rode NJ Transit trains, it was probably a bit cramped.

New Jersey Transit’s center of operations was flooded during Hurricane Sandy, which ruined the computers that run the movements of trains; trees pulled down wires over miles of track. What’s more, New Jersey transit reports that 23 percent of its rail cars and 35 percent of the engines sustained damage, reports Businessweek.com. Replacing them is not a simple matter.

Rail cars are usually custom made for a particular system’s tracks and signals, and they not necessarily uniform: some of New Jersey’s cars run on diesel fuel, some run on electrical power. Building to spec can take years for a big order, and now there is another problem. The factory that makes the shells for New Jersey’s cars, Bombardier Inc. in La Pocatiere, Quebec, just went on strike, as of Nov. 1. Perfect timing.

The U.S. Federal Transit Administration is speaking with transit agencies throughout the country to try to coordinate loans of appropriate cars or technicians to help New Jersey Transit get running again. Amtrak, whose trains were undamaged, is also trying to boost its service in New Jersey.

Right now there is no timetable available for when New Jersey’s rail service will be fully restored. Negotiations at the striking Bombardier plant will resume next week.

 

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