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NJ TRANSIT Again Apologizes For Amtrak Power Problems

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- NJ TRANSIT is once again apologizing to rail riders after Amtrak power problems caused delays for the fourth time this week.

The overhead wire problem during Friday morning's commute meant Amtrak was restricted to operating three trains at a time through the Hudson River Tunnel, spokesman Craig Schultz said.

"So that has created some delays this morning," he told WCBS 880's Levon Putney.

Power Problems Causing Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT Delays

As Of 6 p.m., trains into and out of Penn Station were subject to delays of up to 30 minutes due to the Amtrak overhead power problem.

Crews are working to resolve the problem. PATH is cross-honoring NJ TRANSIT tickets at Newark, Hoboken and Penn Station.

NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Ronnie Hakim apologized to commuters and said in an email that the delays have been caused by problems with Amtrak's power lines.

"Once again this week, Amtrak power disruptions along the Northeast Corridor have wreaked havoc with the commutes of NJ TRANSIT customers," Hakim said. "We want to assure our customers that we are taking all steps necessary to hold Amtrak accountable for these service disruptions and infrastructure failures. Amtrak must take every available action to resolve its continuing problems that are creating chaos for our customers."

Amtrak owns the tracks and equipment along the Northeast Corridor line from New Jersey into New York that are used by NJ TRANSIT commuter trains.

"NJ Transit commuters were victimized by nearly an entire week of extreme delays and cancellations for one reason only: Amtrak's indifference to New Jersey commuters and its abject neglect of the infrastructure that New Jersey and our entire region relies upon," Gov. Chris Christie said. "We have tried again and again to work cooperatively with Amtrak to resolve these issues, but in the face of this repeated and unacceptable failure, I am calling on the Obama Administration and Congress to step up to their responsibility to the people of New Jersey and to the largest and most important regional infrastructure system in the nation."

An Associated Press review found that NJ TRANSIT trains into New York have been delayed by a half hour or more an average of about once every three working days since June 1.

NJ TRANSIT trains have been delayed by 15 minutes or more into New York at least seven times this month because of problems it blamed on Amtrak, according to messages posted on their Twitter account. The delays were blamed on overhead wire, signal and switch problems.

Regardless of who is to blame, NJ TRANSIT riders are fed up.

"We say New Jersey Transit doesn't work under two conditions: when the weather is good and when the weather is bad," Darcy James told CBS2's Tony Aiello.

"They raise fares 9 percent and then they say they have delays. 'It's Amtrak trouble,' it's always the same excuse," said Jeff Schneider.

The latest problem came two days after Amtrak power problems on Wednesday delayed thousands of commuters from getting to and from New York City.

NJ TRANSIT was forced to suspend service in and out of the city and the agency apologized on Twitter to riders, saying the "quality of the commute last few days has been unacceptable, we share your frustration.''

The transit agency said it had "contacted Amtrak at highest levels seeking solution.''

On Tuesday, there were delays on the Northeast Corridor when a signal problem in the Princeton area slowed trains.

A disabled train in one of the tunnels and overhead wire troubles caused delays in and out of Penn Station Monday night when the heat and humidity made it feel like it was over 100 degrees in parts of the area.

Officials: Amtrak Badly Needs Equipment Upgrades

Amtrak has said it needs money to repair and replace infrastructure dating to the 1930s associated with the 105-year-old rail tunnel.

"Yeah, that takes funding and commitment," Amtrak spokesman Craig Schultz told WCBS 880's Putney.

And state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said if federal funding doesn't come to fix this "the issues are getting closer and closer to a point where you basically experience the future just this last week."

More equipment failures and train delays on the horizon. But Sweeney said it will get even worse if the gateway rail tunnel is not funded and built.

"So we need to get moving right away but the Port Authority needs to be the sponsor," he said.

For now, Sweeney is echoing the transportation secretary who said it's almost criminal that lawmakers are ignoring this crisis, Putney reported.

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(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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