NJ TRANSIT implemented a variety of rail safety upgrades over the past year and is looking at additional enhancements for the future, as part of its commitment to safety.
Rail Operations is currently in the process of replacing all stub end tracks at Hoboken Terminal with new sliding friction bumper blocks, as well as advancing a speed control system for trains entering Hoboken Terminal. Other initiatives this past year include enhanced sleep apnea screening and testing, adding additional personnel to the front of trains entering certain stations, and reducing speed limits.
“As we approach the one-year anniversary of the tragic incident at Hoboken Terminal, and while the cause has not been identified, NJ TRANSIT continues taking immediate actions to better protect our customers, our employees and the public,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steve Santoro. “The steps we’ve taken so far are moving us in the right direction and we continually raise the bar higher each and every day. Safety is a demand that I will not compromise or negotiate on.”
NJ TRANSIT hired an outside contractor to conduct a detailed inspection of all of the bumper blocks in Hoboken Terminal, and to provide a recommendation for the type of bumper block to replace the damage block on Track 5.
As a result, a decision was made to replace all of the bumper blocks with sliding friction bumper blocks at Hoboken Terminal, the Atlantic City Rail Terminal, and the Meadowlands Rail Station — all stub end stations.
In addition, NJ TRANSIT is also advancing the speed control system for trains approaching the end of the platform at Hoboken Terminal.
Over the course of the past year, NJ TRANSIT has implemented the following safety initiatives:
- In October 2016, NJ TRANSIT implemented an interim measure where any safety sensitive rail employee who exhibits any indication of potential fatigue symptoms is immediately removed from service until they obtain the appropriate documentation attesting to the satisfactory results or the condition is not present. This initiative was formalized as policy in April 2017.
- To date, 350 of 370 engineers and nearly a third of more than a thousand conductors have been screened for sleep apnea. By the end of September, all locomotive engineers will be screened for sleep apnea.
- NJ TRANSIT has advanced the installation of forward and inward facing cameras on trains. To date, nearly 84% of trains now have forward facing cameras and more than 73% of the rail fleet has inward facing cameras, which are focused on the engineer’s actions. NJ TRANSIT expects to have both cameras in the entire fleet by year’s end.
- Rail Operations implemented a new initiative which requires the conductor to ride in the front cab of trains, along with the engineer, when entering terminals in Hoboken, Penn Station New York, Atlantic City, Princeton, Gladstone, and the Meadowlands station.
- Speed limits entering Hoboken, Atlantic City, Princeton and the Meadowlands Rail Station have been reduced from 10 mph to five mph as a proactive measure.
- Rail Operations has increased the penalty for cell phone infractions, now up to a 90-day suspension for a first-time violation.
- The Office of System Safety (OSS) continues to hire and backfill key safety positions including a deputy chief safety officer, industrial hygienist, environmental safety specialist, and safety education program specialist.
- OSS conducted 16 safety blitzes at key grade crossings and stations to educate and reinforce rail safety to customers and the public.
- This past year, the New Jersey Transit Police Department worked with a number of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and emergency responders, providing emergency response training for 750 first responders, and rail safety training for an additional 550 first responders.