Governor Philip D. Murphy, U.S. Senators Menendez and Booker, NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak have strong reservations about the feasibility of proposals in an independent report prepared by London Bridge Associates (LBA) and released today by the Gateway Program Development Corporation (GDC). Specifically, many of the proposed activities present very significant engineering and operational challenges, which have not yet been validated. They must be carefully considered and evaluated to ensure existing service is not compromised in any way. NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak have noted these concerns to LBA and the other Hudson Tunnel project stakeholders during the time this report was being prepared. While all the project stakeholders are interested in exploring solutions that could expedite the rehabilitation and improve the customer experience as soon as possible, these recommendations require significant further study before they can be characterized as feasible.
A primary concern of the report’s recommendations is the impact to service and how this approach will significantly disrupt the NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak customer experience. Single track operations and daily startup/shutdown of construction activities have the potential to significantly impact rail operations and, consequently, customers who depend on the rail service. Additional proposed modifications to weeknight train service will also impact customers by creating gaps in service frequency – meaning longer wait times between scheduled trains. This recommendation in the LBA report is purely conceptual at this time. Any degradation in service delivery would be unacceptable to NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak.
NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak agree that it’s essential to maintain reliable service in the existing tunnels. Closure of just one of the two tubes would result in as much as a 75% reduction in weekday train service and have catastrophic impacts on the region’s economy. Because of delays to the Hudson Tunnel Project, Amtrak has launched a program to identify and prioritize work that can be done on limited night and weekend outages now, to improve reliability of the century-old tunnel for passengers today while we continue to work toward construction of a new trans-Hudson tunnel. Once the new tunnel is in place the existing tunnel can be closed for full rehabilitation.
NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak cannot support the LBA report’s proposals in their current format but will continue to examine any solution that can achieve our goal of expediting rehabilitation work, while maintaining uninterrupted train service for our customers.
-via Press Release