New York area still days away from regular passenger rail service

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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Employees from MTA New York City Transit worked to restore the South Ferry subway station after it was flooded by seawater during Hurricane Sandy.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin.

Water is the biggest hurdle the New York area is facing in its fight to restore commuter and subway service. While bus service has been restored, it will likely be days before New York Metropolitan Transit Authority subway and commuter trains and NJ Transit service resumes.

“We’re in the process of pumping water, it’s a slow process,” Kevin Ortiz, spokesman, for New York MTA told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “This could be a complicated and long process. We have to pump the water out before we can assess the damage.”

Damage assessment and repair work continues on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad where mud, downed trees, utility poles and even boats littered the right-of-way.

“At first light Tuesday, thousands of MTA workers fanned out across the system to inspect and begin repairing the damage caused the massively destructive storm of historic proportions. No corner of the 5,000 square mile MTA service region was spared,” the MTA said in a statement on its website. “It is still too early to say how long it will take to restore the system to full service. This is will be an exhaustive, time-consuming process with one goal: to restore safe and efficient service to 8.5 million daily MTA customers. It must be noted, however, that this process could have taken much longer had we not taken the pre-emptive measure of suspending all service to safeguard our equipment and prepare facilities to the best of our ability.”

In New Jersey, NJ Transit bus service is operation in Camden only with rail and light rail service suspended and no timeline of when it will return.

NJ Transit’s Rail Operations Center—the central nervous system of the railroad—is engulfed in water, which has damaged backup power supply systems, the emergency generator and the computer system that controls the movement of trains and power supply. There are numerous downed trees across the rail system, washouts, several rail stations are flooded and Morgan Drawbridge on the North Jersey Coast Line in South Amboy sustained damage from boats and a trailer that collided into the bridge.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s office issued an update of the NJ Transit system, “As part of the Christie Administration’s ongoing assessment of NJ Transit infrastructure in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the statewide transit agency continues to inspect facilities, infrastructure and equipment across all regions of the state. While this destructive and deadly storm is now gone, it has left behind long-term mechanical and operational challenges that NJ Transit is working tirelessly to overcome. This will take time and the blow delivered by Hurricane Sandy will continue to impact customers for days to come.”

Categories: Commuter/Regional, Rapid Transit/Light Rail, Safety/Training