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Christie Halts Payments To Amtrak, Calls For Inspection Following Penn Station Derailment

08 April 2017

Amtrak's chief executive said Thursday that the railroad had advance warning of a problem with a track at Penn Station but hadn't fixed it before a NJ Transit train derailed Monday, triggering almost a week of headaches for tens of thousands of LIRR commuters.

Moorman revealed that weakened "timbers" - wooden rail ties that support the steel rails on top of them - were to blame for Monday's derailment.

"Having two derailments in just over a week is unacceptable, and our customers are bearing the brunt", Santoro said. Yesterday MTA and NJ Transit officials publicly blamed Amtrak for failing to adequately maintain the tracks, which they own, and now NJ Governor Chris Christie is piling on.

Moorman assured that full service would be restored Friday morning.

Eight of the 21 tracks have been out of service since Monday morning, when a New Jersey Transit train derailed, causing cancellations and lengthy delays for travelers on Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road.

Vince Difiglia, a Philadelphia resident who commutes regularly into NY to his IT job at an insurance company, said the aging infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor is often in the back of his mind, more so upon learning that the cause of Monday's derailment may have been foreseen.

Amtrak said at 7:30 a.m. that testing and inspections were completed.

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Moorman cautioned Christie on Thursday, saying while he understood Christie's frustration, "withholding funding is not going to solve any of the problems".

He noted that Amtrak has worked with the commuter rails for more than 40 years: "It is a proven partnership and we are dedicated to providing the levels of service necessary so that people can rely on rail travel", said Moorman. The first derailment involved an Acela train on March 24. But NJ Transit said work was still being done and warned that delays were possible.

New Jersey won't be making monthly payments to Amtrak for operating expenses for awhile, and could seek some money back, after two NJT trains were involved in derailments at New York's Penn Station in the last week.

Speaking Thursday, Wick Moorman says workers are finishing repairs that followed two derailments within two weeks. I will also point out that New Jersey Transit to commit capital funding to Penn Station is very recent because of congressional legislation that was passed some years ago.

There is still no timeline for a full service restoration.

Moorland said Amtrak will put together a team to look at all of New York Penn Station's "maintenance issues and deficiencies" and will personally lead a comprehensive review of all of Amtrak's maintenance practices.

According to a letter penned by Christie for Amtrak's chairman, the governor has directed New Jersey Transit to withhold funds until an independent inspection is conducted along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor.