Gov. Christie to Stop Payments to Amtrak

Gov. Christie criticized Amtrak on Wednesday, notifying the agency's chairman in a letter that he had directed NJ Transit to stop paying Amtrak maintenance fees "until there has been a thorough and independent examination" of its tracks and equipment on the Northeast Corridor, along with "unqualified verification that the assets are in a state of good fix".

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.

"Amtrak's apparent disregard for NJ Transit's customers is entirely unacceptable to me", Christie said in a letter sent to NJ Transit.

A derailment during Monday morning's commute has knocked out service at almost half of the available tracks at Penn Station, limiting the number of trains that can go in and out of the facility.

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 derailment of an NJ Transit commuter train Monday as it approached the station platform knocked out eight of the station's 21 tracks maintained 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.

"We are committed to make sure this doesn't happen again", Moorland said during a news conference in Manhattan.




The governor also directed the state's attorney general to consider taking legal action to recover the $62 million and other past payments New Jersey has made to Amtrak.

"As a tenant, New Jersey Transit will take all measures to hold Amtrak accountable", said Santoro.

NJ Transit paid Amtrak $62 million a year ago for maintenance and upgrades.

Christie said NJ Transit would cease the payments until an independent examination of Amtrak's equipment along the corridor has been conducted and shows it is in good condition.

"I apologize to everyone who has been inconvenienced by the recent delays and cancellations at New York Penn Station", Moorman said.

It's still unclear what caused the derailment, but one official tells the Times the investigation is now focusing on the condition of the tracks, not human error or mechanical problems. His decision in 2010 to cancel the ARC tunnel project, a new rail line linking New Jersey and NY, has been a constant source of criticism that has only heightened in instances of gridlock and commuter frustration.

Speaking Thursday, Wick Moorman says workers are finishing repairs that followed two derailments within two weeks.

Amtrak's CEO says full rail service will be restored at New York's Penn Station by Friday morning.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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