Gov. Chris Christie has come down hard on Amtrak in the wake of the recent derailments at New York Penn Station that have disrupted travel for thousands of New Jersey commuters.
In a letter that he sent to Amtrak Wednesday night, the governor wrote that the derailments “…indicate Amtrak does not take its obligations seriously and has not effectively applied NJ Transit’s considerable payments to the proper maintenance of these assets…”
As a result, he said, NJ Transit would withhold the $2.5 million monthly fee it pays Amtrak for use of Penn Station. Noting that “We just made a bulk $62.5 million payment to Amtrak,” Christie added, “I have no problem with making the payments. But you have to use the money to put the tracks in the right condition.”
“I understand the governor is upset and he has a right to be upset. I would say that withdrawing funding is not going to solve any of the problems,” responded Amtrak president and CEO Wick Moorman.
The latest derailment came on Monday. Amtrak identified the cause as old wooden railroad ties that broke apart under the weight of a train, leading it to slip off the tracks. Amtrak had already known about the compromised ties. “We knew that at some point this year in our maintenance program we would be getting to it. Clearly that was something where we got it wrong,” Moorman said.
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