NJ, NY Urge Independent Assessment of Amtrak Following Penn Station Derailments

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stand side by side during a press conference after a bi-state meeting on security preparedness, September 15, 2014 (Andrew Burt/Getty Images) Andrew Burt/Getty Images

Following two commuter train derailments at New York Penn Station in recent weeks, the governors of New Jersey and New York are requesting an independent evaluation of Amtrak lines’ state of repair. Last week’s New Jersey Transit and Amtrak derailment caused massive delays for commuters, and followed a deadly N.J. Transit derailment in Hoboken last fall that killed one and injured over 100 passengers.

In an open letter to Amtrak CEO Charles Moorman and Federal Railroad Administration executive director Patrick Warren, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York called for Amtrak to conduct the review of safety standards to ensure safe and consistent service.

“As the primary users of Penn Station via the Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit, New York and New Jersey are requesting independent verification of track safety at Penn Station. Specifically, this comprehensive review should take into account the causes of recent failures at Penn Station and any needed changes to the processes by which routine maintenance and emergency repairs are performed,” Cuomo and Christie wrote.

Last week’s derailment is prompting another public hearing in the New Jersey state legislature, which had already granted itself subpoena power to investigate N.J. Transit after the derailment in Hoboken. That hearing, where officials from N.J. Transit and Amtrak are expected to testify before a joint State Senate and Assembly committee, will take place at the State House in Trenton on April 28.

Critics of Christie have pointed to a long-term trend of declining funding for New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure since the state’s New Jersey Turnpike Authority began shouldering the brunt of the cost for the railway in 2011.