Chris Christie is halting payments from New Jersey Transit to Amtrak
- Author: Ronnie Bowen Apr 08, 2017,
Apr 08, 2017, 7:52
Following a call by NJ Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro and Christie for a full inspection of Penn Station, Moorland said Amtrak launched "joint inspections of the entire New York Penn Station track infrastructure with the Federal Railway Administration to ensure that all aspects of our infrastructure are in good working order".
According to Moorman, a routine inspection in the days before Monday's derailment noted the condition of the wooden ties that run crosswise under the rails and that they likely would need to be replaced later this year.
John Porcari, a former deputy USA secretary of transportation who is the interim head of the development corporation overseeing Gateway, said a new tunnel wouldn't have prevented the two recent derailments.
"Amtrak's apparent disregard for NJ TRANSIT's customers is entirely unacceptable to me", he said.
Amtrak says a March 24 derailment was caused by a mismatched rail and wasn't related to Monday's incident. "The second derailment involving the New Jersey Transit train on Monday morning was the result of the gauge of the rails widening because there were weak timbers underneath it". The area had been inspected recently and the issue detected, Moorman said.
At a news briefing Thursday, Amtrak President & CEO Wick Moorman said he wanted to apologize "personally" to the tens of thousands plunged into the depths of despair by service changes from the second derailment at the Manhattan hub in 11 days.
"Defects like those that led to the two recent Penn Station derailments directly threaten the lives, safety and careers of Long Island commuters", council chairman Mark Epstein said in the statement.
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"It's our job to make sure that all of passengers, both on Amtrak and on our commuter partners, can travel safely and reliably", he said.
"It is Amtrak's responsibility to take immediate action and all corrective actions to resolve the continuing problems at Penn Station New York for the sake of all of our customers and the region's transit system", he said at a news conference Wednesday. But NJ Transit said work was still being done and warned that delays were possible.
NJ Transit has been on a Holiday Schedule since Tuesday with limited service leading to crowded cars and platforms at its stations.
Amtrak's $24 billion Gateway plan to build a new train tunnel under the Hudson River and fix the existing tunnel, is considered one of the most important infrastructure projects in the nation. He said the agency was "working around the clock" to fix and evaluate the tracks.
Gov. Chris Christie has threatened to withhold funding from Amtrak, which maintains the rails and New York Penn Station.
In 2015, the federal government agreed to a 50-50 split of the cost with the states of New Jersey and NY and the project is now in the permitting phase.
Amtrak's CEO says full rail service will be restored at New York's Penn Station by Friday morning.