New Jersey Transit’s struggle to recover from Superstorm Sandy is being compounded by a pre-storm decision to park much of its equipment in two rail yards that forecasters predicted would flood, a move that resulted in damage to one-third of its locomotives and a quarter of its passenger cars.
That damage is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars and take many months to repair, a Reuters examination has found.
The Garden State’s commuter railway parked critical equipment – including much of its newest and most expensive stock – at its low-lying main rail yard in Kearny just before the hurricane. It did so even though forecasters had released maps showing the wetland-surrounded area likely would be under water when Sandy’s expected record storm surge hit. Other equipment was parked at its Hoboken terminal and rail yard, where flooding also was predicted and which has flooded before.
Among the damaged equipment: nine dual-powered locomotive engines and 84 multi-level rail cars purchased over the past six years at a cost of about $385 million.
“If there’s a predicted 13-foot or 10-foot storm surge, you don’t leave your equipment in a low-lying area,” said David Schanoes, a railroad consultant and former deputy chief of field operations for Metro North Railroad, a sister railway serving New York State. “It’s just basic railroading. You don’t leave your equipment where it can be damaged.”
RTFA. It’s long, detailed, some of it would be funny except that it all ends up with taxpayers funding the grants and loans that will be need to restore this commuter railway to capacity.
Like any public/political entity,there will be hearings and investigations, fingerpointing and rationales. Maybe someone will thrown under the bus. Maybe not. But, it’s going to take a great of money and time to get back to business – and I’d suggest damned few of current management should be allowed to screw around with either the repairs or the functioning railway.