Amtrak: Weakened wooden railroad tie caused derailment

- New Jersey Transit officials are lashing out at Amtrak for to the rail problems at Penn Station that have heavily impacted rush hour traffic at the commuter hub for the entire week.

Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines will resume running on a regular weekday schedule and Midtown Direct trains, which had been going to Hoboken Terminal, will return to Penn Station New York, said Steven Santoro, NJ Transit executive director.

Eight of the 21 have been out of service since Monday morning when a New Jersey Transit train derailed, causing cancellations and lengthy delays for travelers on Amtrak, NJ Transit and the Long Island Rail Road.

Read the whole thunderous letter here, but the point is that Christie says NJ Transit will stop paying Amtrak until "an independent examination" verifies that the tracks, signals, and other equipment is in a state-of-good-repair. "The recurring derailments at PSNY [Penn Station] indicate Amtrak does not take its obligations seriously and has not applied NJ Transit's considerable payments to the proper maintenance of these assets".

The agency pays $2.5 million each month and made a $62 million-dollar payment last week.

"I have visited with our crew and we expect to have all tracks at [Penn Station] accessible by Friday morning", Moorman said in a statement tweeted out by Amtrak.

Ferrer said in the letter that Moorman had assured him in phone calls this week that Amtrak was working diligently to fix the damaged equipment and restore service as quickly as possible. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is fuming over the derailments and subsequent delays, saying he is halting payments to Amtrak and calling for Congressional hearings.

Moorland said that Monday's derailment was caused by a the "gauge of the rails widening because there were weakened timbers underneath", which crews have been working around-the-clock to fix and make sure there are no other track problems in the area of track 9.

In another incident, on March 24, an outbound Amtrak train derailed at Penn Station and scraped against an inbound NJ Transit train. The tracks at Penn Station are owned and maintained by Amtrak. FRA, which oversees heavy rail systems, such as Amtrak, dispatched a team of inspectors to Penn Station, shortly after Monday's derailment.

"Our plan is to work around the clock until we have the repairs done", Amtrak COO Scot Naparstek told the Times yesterday.

Moorman also said that it will create a special team to prioritize maintenance issues at Penn Station and, if needed, redeploy workers from other projects. NJ Transit had 271 accidents, or 18 percent of the total, compared with Amtrak's 44 percent, according to data from the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis. An estimated 600,000 people and 1,300 trains pass through Penn Station on a daily basis during the week.

  • Jon Douglas