Wednesday, December 12, 2012

NJT: 261 passenger cars need post-Sandy fix

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Questioned Tuesday by New Jersey's Assembly Transportation Committee—but not as harshly as some expected—New Jersey Transit Executive Director Jim Weinstein said the company had sustained $100 million in damage to its rail equipment, including 62 locomotives and 261 passenger cars, due to Hurricane Sandy.

Weinstein again defended NJ Transit's equipment storage plans and procedures, as he did in earlier testimony before Congress, saying actions were based on forecasts and past flooding history, including at or near its rail yards in Kearny and Hoboken. Both areas sustained major impacts.

Weinstein also said virtually all of the equipment damage, including facilities, would likely be covered by insurance, reducing the risk of a fare increase to cover costs. He did not disclose whether all 261 cars would be restored.

State rail advocates told Railway Age it was almost certain that the newer Bombardier MultiLevel cars recently purchased would be quickly returned to service, but the fate of up to 90 older Arrow III electric multiple-unit (EMU) cars, previously slated for rehabilitation, was now in doubt.

State Assemblywoman Linda Stender said after the meeting, "I thank Director Weinstein for testifying today and offering his thoughts, but I also want to hear more about what our transportation leaders will do to better plan for concerns such as climate change, which will have an unrelenting impact on our transportation system in years to come."

Hurricane Sandy's impact on NJ Transit generally is considered the most severe among regional passenger rail agencies in the Northeast, though New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) railroads and subways also were severely affected.