You're completely right, Thirdrail7. I think the part where NJT deserves the blame the most is that they were not proactive and trying to hire way before it was going to become a shortage. They knew the retirement ages of their employees and knew there would be a shortage but didn't do enough earlier recruitment to replace them, I think.
Again, when your agency is starved for funds, it is difficult to hire. When your employees aren't operating under an operating agreement, it is hard to entice recruits.
I do agree that many possible employees went elsewhere (I heard VRE a couple of years ago, but don't know if that was a rumor or just a few people). Do you think the new Connecticut service really has taken a few? That would make sense--brand new, so they would need all new employees and might be attracting some from elsewhere?
That wasn't a rumor. I think they took 4 or 5 engineers. A bunch have gone to Metro-North and a few went to CT trails. Amtrak has picked up quite few over the last few years and for good reason. Since the compensation package almost balances out, they left NJT to Amtrak so they could make use of the entire network. Most of them moved off the corridor to escape NJ's high cost of living. This is what happens when your compensation package (which comes with a mandatory in state residency) doesn't keep up with the compensation.
I didn't even bring up Brightline but I know a few NJT employees and quite a few Amtrak employees went down there. It is cheaper to live.
Again, how can you plan for that...unless you're willing to fork it over to your current employees.
By the way, I just checked online to see which afternoon train has been cancelled going south today, and it is the one that gets to PJC at 3:56 (due to not enough available equipment, according to NJT). So they told people to take the next one. The 3:56 is usually a double-decker. The one after that is usually a dumpy, crowded, trash-filled floor, single-level that is full even without twice as many people on it and how they have the nerve to cancel the nice one and keep the garbage one is beyond me.And how can you not have enough equipment? Did 10 train cars all of a sudden become unavailable? Or is that codespeak for "We don't have enough engineers and conductors for all our rush hour trains?" and has nothing at all to do with equipment?
Actually, the two are intertwined. The trains and their lines aren't linear. One of the things I'm harped on for years is trains don't just "appear." Trains represent trains. There must be balance. A 10 car train can become unavailable and there is no equipment...if there is shortage in one area.
Allow me to use an example that applies to your neck of the woods. If you check your timetable, you'll notice two trains that seemingly originate and depart from Jersey Ave: Trains 3712 (739a) and train 3714(755a.). These two trains are pains, but the key to this conversation is 3714 that train turned off X377, an extra deadhead move from New York. It arrived at Jersey Ave, wait for 3712 to leave, pulls in on the branch, and turns. As you can see, the window is narrow. The thing about that train is X377 (which becomes a NEC train) turns from 6606, a Midtown Direct train that origins in Dover. When 3712 doesn't operate, sometimes they grab 3928 (an limited stop express) and have that train make additional stops.
In this example, if the Hoboken division has a manpower shortage or disruption, there may not be equipment to feed the NEC or any other line that train will touch until they can grab another set from somewhere....and that is another problem.
With the PTC mandate looming, numerous cab cars and engines have been removed from service. This is terrible for NJT, since that means when your train arrives at a terminal, it cannot operate in the opposite direction. As such, trains that previously were used to fill in the blanks no longer have the ability to "ping pong" back and forth. What can a train without a cab car or locomotive on the opposite end do when it arrives in Trenton, as an example?
Nothing....except continue to Morrisville yard, where they can park the train, cut the engine off, runaround the train, do a brakes test, and report back out. That would take time and the current schedule doesn't have that kind of time since it was based upon push-pull operation.
As such, these trains typically make a one way trip, wait for rush hour and make another trip.
Another problem is parts for aging equipment. This has been a problem for many railroads, including Amtrak. Add to the fact that is summer, and now you may have coaches o/o/s for hot cars.
It isn't one thing, combine to one area. One thing spreads throughout the system because the balance is off. A train that starts in Great Notch may finish in Long Branch while a train that starts in Long Branch will finish in Great Notch.
NJT should take a hard look and make realistic schedules.....that aren't influenced by politics. Certain trains that have adjacent trains continue to run merely because some politician or senator demanded must run without regard for the fluidity of the operation.
Some of the PJC expresses should get scaled back and make more stops. That would free up more equipment. This should be attempted before you cut off access on another line.
Seriously, who in their right mind wants to go to Atlantic City?
How you gonna keep em down @ that Jersey Pit once they've seen Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun?
Believe it or not Jim, AC is coming back right now.
I believe this is part of the politics. There are many people and interests that WANT to see Atlantic City fail. If you recall, they wanted to allow gambling in the Meadowlands but they failed to overturn the law that only allows gambling in Atlantic City. If you starve Atlantic City, it may help the cause.