TRENTON – Senate President Richard J. Codey today announced that in light of yesterday’s massive power outage along northeast rail lines, he has directed Senator Nicholas Sacco, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, to hold hearings to investigate the cause of the failure in order to avoid similar disruptions in the future.
“Rail lines in New Jersey, and the northeast in general, are part of the lifeblood of our economy. We need to ask ourselves, how fragile is this system?” said Sen. Codey, D-Essex. “If these outages were the product of infrastructure failure, how can we expect to avoid them in the future if the federal government is committed to disinvesting in Amtrak? What does this mean for the future of rail service in New Jersey and the northeast region in general? These are questions we need to get to the bottom of.”
Sen. Codey noted that a cascading electrical failure triggered power outages along a 225-mile stretch of train tracks from Washington D.C. to New York City yesterday. NJ Transit estimates that 30-35,000 of their passengers were affected by the outage, while Amtrak estimates over 4,000 passengers were affected on their trains.
“As gas prices skyrocket, New Jersey commuters are going to increasingly look to NJ Transit to get them to work and back home. We cannot afford to have a morning commute where tens of thousands of NJ Transit passengers are stranded because of problems with the Amtrak infrastructure,” said Sen. Sacco, Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.
“It is my fear that a chronic lack of federal funding from the Bush Administration for mass transit in general and Amtrak specifically has led to a deterioration of our railway infrastructure that may make problems like yesterday’s power outage more common,” added Sen. Sacco.
Sen. Sacco, D-Bergen and Hudson, expects to convene the first Transportation Committee hearing on June 19.