Amtrak and NJ Transit to investigate disruptions on NEC, study root causes

Amtrak and NJ Transit to investigate disruptions on NEC, study root causes Image credit: Amtrak

Amtrak and NJ Transit have been accelerating examination, inspection, maintenance, and improvement activities to a variety of infrastructure and fleet systems following a recent spike in Northeast Corridor (NEC) disruptions in New Jersey and New York Penn Station. This will be a holistic effort focused on both Amtrak infrastructure — including the electric traction system that powers trains, the catenary, signals, and switches — and NJ Transit equipment, including the pantograph system that connects to the catenary and draws power for the train.

There have been several major service disruptions in recent months, together with a variety of smaller incidents that have reduced reliability on this key travel corridor. The two companies are working together to investigate the causes of each of these events and to improve service for riders. Immediate actions as part of the joint plan include:

  • Additional extensive and frequent catenary and track inspections of the 170 track miles between Trenton and New York City to identify any catenary issues that could cause pantograph damage.
  • Visual inspections of all pantographs at key stations and installation of high-resolution cameras to inspect pantographs.
  • Externally supported reviews with industry experts to assist root cause analysis and development of solutions.
  • Expansion of the helicopter catenary inspection and repair program, which involves taking high-resolution photos of the system, each catenary structure, and their components. The photos are inspected offline to identify priority items for repair.
  • A joint review of Amtrak and NJ Transit delays and items impacting reliability, which will result in a prioritized set of investments to address sources of chronic delays.

Additional longer-term actions to address state of good repair of Amtrak infrastructure, including added resources to expedite testing of transformers in substations; pursuing additional grants to replace catenary, substations and transmission, and signal lines, as well as support capital renewal; and evaluating methods to expand overnight work windows with service adjustments to accelerate renewal and repairs.

Amtrak and NJ Transit will issue regular reports that will include details of the efforts and progress to date, as well as information regarding root causes as they are identified. Further research and development will continue as Amtrak and NJ Transit evaluate other methods to identify conditions and make repairs before service disruptions occur. Once the root causes are identified, Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT will identify or seek additional resources to address issues that are uncovered, while continuing to advance major projects that replace the NEC’s old and fragile systems with modern and reliable infrastructure for key sections of the NEC.

Source: Amtrak