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Rail News: Passenger Rail

NJ Transit seeks to give M-O-M the gift of rail


New Jersey Transit June 13 advanced plans to restore passenger rail service in central New Jersey by awarding a $4.5 million contract to Systra Consulting to perform a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex (M-O-M) rail project.

"Central New Jersey — particularly Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties — continues to be the fastest growing region in the state of New Jersey," said Chairman and State Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein in a prepared statement.

After the Major Investment Study was released in 1996, the M-O-M project was added to the state’s "Circle of Mobility," which is a series of high-priority transportation projects.

In creating the DEIS, Systra will examine two existing rail alignments using diesel service between Lakehurst and Newark. The first, a 40.3-mile freight alignment, would travel between Lakehurst and Monmouth Junction, at which point the M-O-M trains would travel on the Northeast Corridor to Newark. Passengers traveling south from Monmouth Junction or to New York would have to transfer to a different NJ Transit train.

The second choice is a 31.5-mile freight alignment between Lakehurst and Red Bank. At Red Bank, trains would run north on the North Jersey Coast Line and NEC to Newark. Again, passengers traveling south of Rahway or to New York would need to transfer to a different train.

Systra plans to research and analyze ridership projections, equipment requirements, capital and operating costs, infrastructure improvements, potential station and train storage locations, environmental impacts, and train scheduling for each considered alignment.

NJ Transit plans to involve Federal Transit Administration in the development, review and approval of the DEIS, work on which is scheduled for completion in 2003. Then the board will be asked to advance the project again — at that time to Final EIS and preliminary engineering.