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New Jersey Transit last week began a new accelerated training course as part of an effort to address a shortage of locomotive engineers.The program reduces the training time for new engineers to 12 months from 20. For the program's inaugural run, NJ Transit is teaching 14 assistant conductors to become rail engineers.The program is aimed at addressing the agency's engineer shortage and getting more personnel in position to operate trains on a more reliable schedule, NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett said in a press release."This accelerated class is part of our commitment to explore new ways to get engineers trained and qualified to operate our trains without reducing our rigorous standards of excellence," he said. "This new class contains NJ Transit assistant conductors, who are already familiar with complex rail rules and regulations, and leverages that railroad experience to dramatically reduce their training period."NJ Transit is struggling to hire locomotive engineers as its employees leave for better-paying jobs at other commuter railroads or retire, according to an NJ.com report earlier this month.