Christie halts Amtrak payments, calls for inspection

Chris Christie is halting payments to Amtrak following a second derailment at New York City's Penn Station that is causing headaches for commuters in the nation's busiest rail hub.

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.

NJ Transit says it paid Amtrak $62 million past year for maintenance and repairs. "Our crews hope to restore regulat service to New York Penn Station by Friday".

A commuter ferry crosses the Hudson River to New York City, Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in this photo from Hoboken, N.J. Many commuters are shifting to the ferry service following Monday's derailment of a NJ Transit train which has lead to reduced train service into New York.

"Bottom line - we need more of a voice in how that work is planned and implemented", he said.

For long term plans, Santoro called on Amtrak to allow NJ TRANSIT a greater role in maintenance, and called for a broader look at Penn Station and how it is operated.

Moorman said it underestimated the weakness of the ties under the section of track where a NJ Transit train derailed Monday. Problems continued Wednesday into and out of New York's Penn Station following the derailment Monday. The heads of NJ Transit and the Long Island Rail Road, which between them carry hundreds of thousands of people into NY daily, criticized Amtrak for Monday's derailment and another one on March 24, and for the time it has taken to restore full service.

With the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit still operating on abbreviated schedules Wednesday evening and bearing the brunt of criticism from angry riders, their directors took aim at Amtrak, which owns and operates the tracks, signals and switches in the station complex. He accused Amtrak of not taking its "obligations seriously", writing, "it has not effectively applied NJ Transit's considerable payments to the proper maintenance of these assets".

At a Thursday morning news conference in Penn Station, Amtrak president and chief executive Charles "Wick" Moorman apologized to Penn.

The Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit have been operating on modified or heavily reduced schedules since, and that continues Thursday.

Amtrak said it values its partnership with commuter railroads and shares their frustration. "Amtrak engineering forces are making good progress as they work as safely and quickly as possible 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", the railroad said in a statement.

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

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