Christie halts Amtrak payments, calls for inspection

NJ Transit says it has given tens of millions of dollars to Amtrak for maintenance work under its contract.

Vince Difiglia, a Philadelphia resident who commutes regularly into NY to his IT job at an insurance company, said the aging infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor is often in the back of his mind, more so upon learning that the cause of Monday's derailment may have been foreseen.

The Republican governor says in a separate letter that he directed New Jersey Transit to withhold funds until an independent inspection verifies that Amtrak's Northeast Corridor is in a state of good fix. Eight of the 21 tracks were knocked out of service, Scot Naparstek, chief operating officer of Amtrak, told The Associated Press. "Our crews hope to restore regulat service to New York Penn Station by Friday".

"Amtrak engineering forces are making good progress as they work as safely and quickly as possibly to fix damage to one of the most complex interlockings on the Northeast Corridor, a location where two tunnel tracks diverge towards the 21 station tracks", spokesman Mike Tolbert said Wednesday.

Santoro wants Amtrak to form a team of rail experts from NJ Transit, Amtrak and LIRR to "walk every inch of track" at Penn Station and perform an exhaustive inspection analysis of tracks and signals around the station.

The investigation into the derailment is ongoing, Santoro said.

Speaking Thursday, Wick Moorman says that full service will be restored at New York's Penn Station by Friday morning.

Amtrak has asked the Federal Railroad Administration to conduct "a thorough review of infrastructure at Penn Station to evaluate current conditions". Problems continued Wednesday into and out of New York's Penn Station following the derailment Monday.

Amtrak says one derailment was caused by a misaligned rail, the second by weak timbers underneath the track.

Amtrak officials - and the region's commuting public - are banking on a large-scale, $20 billion-plus project, called Gateway, that would build a new tunnel and expand Penn Station.

"New York Penn Station is our busiest and most important station, and we take our role as host seriously and make every effort to keep it operating smoothly".

In a letter to Amtrak, acting Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Fernando Ferrer called the problems "unacceptable infrastructure failures" and said they "leave the clear impression that Amtrak is not aggressively maintaining its tracks, switches and related equipment". He also called for NJ Transit to have a bigger say in how the station is operated.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is urging the state's congressional representatives to hold hearings about recent derailments involving New Jersey commuter trains. The aftermath has been days of delays, overcrowding and cancellations.

No cause has been released.

Rail service in New Jersey still isn't back to normal levels more than two days after a train derailed in New York's Penn Station.

Now, seven years later, commuters are still relying on infrastructure that is more than 100 years old. "I'm more frustrated because younger people like you are going to pay the piper for it".

  • Eleanor Harrison