The minor train derailment at Penn Station that turned into a far-reaching transit catastrophe is entirely Amtrak’s responsibility, NJ Transit argued at a news briefing Wednesday afternoon.
NJ Transit Executive Director Steven H. Santoro blistered Amtrak with a list of criticisms and demands as his company has had to accommodate the disruption by adding train, bus and ferry service until at least the end of the service day on Thursday. The most up to date service announcements can be found on the NJ Transit website and its Twitter page.
“We will take all measures to hold Amtrak accountable,” Santoro said, explaining that his carrier is a tenant of Amtrak, which owns the tracks.
“In the short term, we demand that Amtrak move forward in forming a team consisting of rail experts from NJ TRANSIT, Amtrak and LIRR to walk every inch of track at Penn Station New York, and perform an exhaustive inspection and analysis of all tracks,” Santoro said.
Amtrak responded in a statement soon after Santoro’s news briefing:
“We value our partnership with the commuter railroads and share the frustration these recent issues present to all of our customers. For this reason, Amtrak has requested the FRA join in a thorough review of infrastructure at Penn Station to evaluate current conditions.
“New York Penn Station is our busiest and most important station, and we take our role as host seriously and make every effort to keep it operating smoothly. We are investigating the causes of these recent derailments and will take prompt action to address them. We will continue to work with our partners at LIRR and NJ Transit to ensure that adequate work windows and funding are available to keep these heavily-used and aged assets functioning reliably as we pursue the long term goal of modernizing Penn Station infrastructure.”
On Monday, an Acela Express train carrying 1,200 passengers derailed, forcing Penn Station to shut down a number of tracks for repairs, which in turn wreaked havoc on transit. Few passengers were injured.
On March 24, an Amtrak train derailed at 9 a.m. at Penn Station and collided with a NJ Transit train on a parallel track.
“Having two derailments in just over a week is unacceptable,” Santorno stated, “and our customers are bearing the brunt. We have and will continue to press Amtrak on the need for corrective actions now.”