TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is halting payments to Amtrak following a second derailment at New York’s Penn Station that is causing headaches for commuters.
In a letter to Amtrak’s chairman, Christie said he directed NJ TRANSIT to withhold funds until an independent inspection verifies Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is in a state of good repair.
NJ TRANSIT paid Amtrak $62 million last year for maintenance and upgrades.
In the letter he said the recurring derailments at Penn “indicate Amtrak does not take its obligations seriously and has not effectively applied NJ TRANSIT’s considerable payments to the proper maintenance of these assets, which are absolutely essential to its customers.”
“Amtrak’s apparent disregard for NJ TRANSIT’s customers is entirely unacceptable to me,” he said.
The governor also says he’s asked the attorney general to consider filing a lawsuit to recover money that NJ TRANSIT pays to use the rail line.
On Thursday, Amtrak President and CEO Wick Moorman said he understands Christie is frustrated but added that withholding money “is not going to solve any of the problems.”
“Since the last major infrastructure renewals at Penn Station, train count and ridership have essentially doubled,” he said. “It is an incredibly congested and complex operation and one of the things that, quite frankly, slows us down is we get a very limited amount of time for maintenance down there because our goal is not to impact service at all.”
Moorman said Amtrak expects to have full rail service restored by Friday as it repairs damage caused by Monday’s derailment.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)