Delays Grow As Rails Age At NJ Transit
NJ Transit's most popular line, a 60-mile stretch between Trenton and New York City, is owned and operated by Amtrak. The wires that power trains along that route were last replaced in the 1980s. There are few areas along that stretch where trains can bypass each other, and only two tunnels carry NJ Transit and Amtrak traffic in and out of Penn Station. One mishap can have ripple effects systemwide. Amtrak is responsible for major upgrades, and the national rail agency has long struggled with budget constraints. A 2009 Amtrak report on the Northeast Corridor found that the system needed $38 billion to modernize it. Total federal funding for Amtrak operating and capital expenses was $40 billion over the past 40 years, according to agency figures.
Amtrak began to replace the overhead wires in 1996, but a lack of funding put a halt to the project a year later. The upgrades are scheduled to resume as part of a $450 million federal project to bring high-speed rail along the corridor. The work is slated to be complete by September 2017 and will upgrade a 24-mile section from Trenton to New Brunswick in New Jersey.