The Atlantic City Rail Line was suspended in September to install federally-mandated positive train control safety equipment. Riders were told it would be back early in 2019 but that deadline came and went. This week, after nearly six months, NJ Transit announced the Atlantic City Rail Line will resume service on May 24. The Princeton branch, known as the Dinky, is also scheduled to be back up and running on the same day. The Dinky shut down in October.
Assemblymen Vincent Mazzeo and John Armato have been fighting to get the AC line open.
“Why couldn’t it be open in March, why couldn’t it be open in April, even the first week of May?” asked Mazzeo. “Sometimes South Jersey gets slighted, this is one example that I’m going to keep fighting for.”
“The rumors are there are a shortage of trains, they’re short of engines, they’re short of conductors. And right now they’re all up in North Jersey. Trying to get an answer to that, we won’t get an answer to that either,” Armato said.
At a board meeting two weeks ago, NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett said the delays were caused by several reasons, including engineer shortages, a temporary equipment backlog, and a wait for the Federal Railroad Administration to approve an alternative positive train control installation schedule.
Despite being years behind on the original schedule, NJ Transit managed to meet the criteria required to receive a two-year extension to finish the implementation of positive train control.
Dominic Dilelsi is the owner of a family-run restaurant inside the AC rail terminal. He hopes NJ Transit sticks to its word this time. He’s already altered hours and had to let go of employees.
“To have to look at someone who we consider family, who’s a co-worker but we consider family and tell them listen we don’t have work for you, it’s tough. It’s tough because they also have families too — kids, husbands, wives. It’s rough,” he said.
The diner is normally a very busy breakfast and lunch spot, but many of the tables aren’t taken when they should be all full, especially with a busy weekend coming up. Dilelsi said a boat show being in town is usually big revenue, but that they’re going to lose out because of the AC line being shut down.
There’s almost three months to go for people who rely on the train.