January 1, 2023, marked the 40th anniversary of NJ TRANSIT assuming control and management of the operations of New Jersey’s commuter rail network, according to the agency’s news release.
In recognition of this anniversary, NJ TRANSIT has painted four locomotives in “Heritage” paint schemes to recognize the predecessor railroads and employees that make up its system.
“Congratulations to the men and women of Rail Operations for a job well done,” said Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, NJ TRANSIT board chair. “I am proud of NJ TRANSIT’s commitment over the last four decades in providing safe and reliable rail travel for millions of customers all over the state. And we continue to use and invest in the latest technologies and advances to enhance service and safety.”
After midnight on January 1, 1983, the first NJ TRANSIT trains departed Hoboken and Penn Station New York with crews who were now officially NJ TRANSIT employees.
Over the past 40 years, NJ TRANSIT said it has steadily improved New Jersey’s rail network by investing in modernized equipment, rebuilding the infrastructure and right-of-way, increasing service to Midtown Manhattan, introducing one-seat rides to Penn Station New York on three rail lines, increasing overall capacity, extending electrification on two busy rail corridors, and much more.
“Our congratulations and thanks go out to the entire NJ TRANSIT Rail Operations team, past and present, on the occasion of its 40th anniversary,” said Kevin S. Corbett, NJ TRANSIT president/CEO. “With a proud legacy behind us, an extraordinary team now in place, major rail infrastructure projects like the Portal North Bridge Replacement Project currently underway, and 138 new multi-level rail cars beginning to arrive in 2024, the future looks very bright for this essential division of NJ TRANSIT – and more importantly, for the millions of customers who depend on it every year.”
On January 1, 1983, a group of employees began transforming an aging passenger railroad system. Older railcars and locomotives were refurbished or replaced with ADA-accessible equipment. New high-level platforms were built for customers with disabilities and faster boarding and exiting of trains. Signals and overhead-wire catenary systems were modernized, according to NJ TRANSIT.
A rise in ridership led to service expansion. This included the launch of Atlantic City Rail Line service, the launch of MidTOWN DIRECT service, the opening of the Newark Liberty International Airport Station, and the opening of the Frank R. Lautenberg Station at Secaucus Junction that today allows customers access to 11 of NJ TRANSIT’s 12 rail lines.
NJ TRANSIT also centralized its maintenance and train dispatching functions in Kearny with the opening of the Meadows Maintenance Complex in 1987 and the Rail Operations Center in 2003.
While expanding the capacity of the rail system, NJ TRANSIT concurrently added tens of thousands of new parking spaces, including the addition of park-and-ride facilities at Metropark, Ramsey Route 17, Montclair State University, Bay Street, Rahway, Hamilton, Trenton, and Morristown stations.
In December 2006, NJ TRANSIT said it turned its focus on capacity expansion by debuting the system’s first multi-level railcar.
In December 2020, NJ TRANSIT had its Positive Train Control (PTC) system certified by the Federal Railroad Administration.
In October 2021, NJ TRANSIT’s Board of Directors awarded a $1.5 billion contract for a new Portal North Bridge. The project will eliminate the existing 112-year-old swing bridge, which has been the enduring source of major service disruptions for NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak customers traveling on the Northeast Corridor, according to the agency.
In addition, construction is underway on a new Raritan River Bridge, which carries the North Jersey Coast Line between Perth Amboy and South Amboy.
NJ TRANSIT said it is in the process of fully reimagining two of its major rail hubs; Newark Penn Station and Hoboken Terminal. The Murphy Administration has committed $191 million to transform Newark Penn Station and $176 million for improvements around Hoboken Terminal. Construction at Hoboken has also included filling in the unused Long Slip canal.
Major reconstruction work is underway at Elizabeth, Lyndhurst, and Perth Amboy stations with more stations including Roselle Park and Bloomfield in the pipeline.
In all, NJ TRANSIT has 20 rail stations in design or active development for future work.