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Morning Amtrak Power Problems Snarl NJ Transit, Highlight Aging Infrastructure

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork / AP) - Amtrak officials are eyeing an electrical substation in Richmond, Va., as the possible source of a voltage problem that halted trains between New York and Philadelphia.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole says engineers are investigating what caused the low-voltage dip at 7:15 a.m. Thursday. Service was restored at about 8 a.m.

NJ Transit had to stop its Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line trains.

The problem apparently wasn't related to a transformer fire that halted service on the Northeast Corridor for several hours on Tuesday.

WCBS 880's Levon Putney On The Problem


The two incidents this week underscore problems created by aging infrastructure on the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor. Cole says Amtrak has been making improvements to substations and other electrical equipment for several years, but some of the parts date back to World War II.

"That is a critical infrastructure component and there just hasn't been the money over the last 40 years of Amtrak's existence," says Martin Robins, director of the Rutgers University Vorhees Transportation Center.

He says over $400 million in federal funds had been allocated to update the electrical system and signals along the corridor, only New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen proposed diverting that money to victims of severe weather in the Midwest.

"If that money were diverted and it didn't come to New Jersey, that need is still there and there are other needs that are right behind, such as the rebuilding of the Portal Bridge, which crosses the Hackensack River.

Robins says these chronic problems will get worse and riders will eventually lose confidence (if they haven't already).

You can check area traffic and transit by clicking here.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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