North Jersey.com – NJ Transit is spending an additional $32.5 million to ensure that its positive train control installation meets the 2018 deadline.
The board of directors on Wednesday unanimously approved the spending, which is in addition to the $173.4 million spent on the project so far. The total cost is estimated to reach $320 million.
Positive train control is designed to automatically prevent certain train accidents like train-on-train collisions and derailments due to high speeds. It gained renewed focus after the fatal crash at the Hoboken Terminal in September. Congress has mandated that all railroads install the system by the end of 2018, though NJ Transit has a way to go.
Only five of 124 radio towers required have been installed for the project, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. In addition, none of NJ Transit's 440 locomotives has been equipped with the new technology, and 1,100 employees all still need training.
The additional money will go in part toward a modified contract with Parsons Transportation Group, an engineering services firm that is installing the new system, NJ Transit Executive Director Steven Santoro said Wednesday.
"What that buys is a commitment from the contractor and NJ Transit to complete the PTC project by December 2018," Santoro said.
A second shift of labor is being added to retrofit NJ Transit's vehicles, and more work is needed to test the radio system and install technology along the railway.
Much of the money is coming from the state's Transportation Trust Fund, with freight railroads and the Metro-North Railroad expected to reimburse NJ Transit for part of the cost as well.
As of Nov. 30, NJ Transit had spent $104.6 million on the project. Santoro said he fully anticipates the project to be completed by the 2018 deadline.