Federal Officials Recommend Fining New Jersey Transit System

September 5, 2017

A federal inspector has recommended imposing a fine on New Jersey’s public transportation system as it falls behind on installing a mandatory safety system.

A Federal Railroad Administration inspection report on June 12, reviewed by The Record, recommended federal officials fine NJ Transit for the delay in installing positive train control. The fine could be from $500 to $25,000.

Positive train control helps slow or stop trains to prevent them from running stop signals or going through an area too fast. Congress made the system mandatory in 2008 after a collision in California between a freight train and a commuter train that killed 25 people. Lawmakers originally set a 2015 deadline for installation, but that was later pushed back after railroads said they would not be able to meet that deadline.

Only 13 of the 440 locomotives on NJ Transit have the equipment; 69 out of the 1,100 employees have been trained; and the system has not been activated on any of the tracks that need it before the December 2018 deadline, according to the railroad’s quarterly report.

In a statement Friday evening, NJ Transit said it has every expectation it will meet the federal implementation deadline.

“This important safety technology remains a priority and we work every day to keep it moving forward,” the statement said.

The transit system said it is holding its prime contractor, Parsons Transportation Group, accountable to keep the project on track.

Former NJ Transit compliance chief Todd Barretta told state lawmakers last week the system was behind on positive train control installation and likely would not meet the deadline. Railroad executive director Steve Santoro blamed the contractor for the delays.

Still, if a fine were imposed it would be on the railroad and not the contractor.

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