With the COVID-19 health emergency continuing, NJ Transit ridership remains down considerably from this same time last year.

Nevertheless, the agency is pressing ahead with plans to expand the number of available train engineers and improve its rail infrastructure.

During a socially distanced and masked ceremony on Tuesday in the Iselin section of Woodbridge, Gov. Phil Murphy congratulated NJ Transit’s latest Locomotive Engineer Training Class for completing their formal classroom training and passing the Northeast Operating Rules of Advisory Committee and physical characteristics exams.

He told the group of 17 graduates they are a vital part “of the effort to turn NJ Transit around, to improve on-time performance and responsiveness, to restore the faith of NJ Transit’s customers and enhance the pride of all who work the rails.”

Murphy said NJ Transit continues to take important steps to get back on track.

“We’re proving that with the right team and the right dedication, we can once again make NJ Transit a national model for safe, accessible and well run mass transit," he said.

NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett said the organization is not only adding more rail engineers, it will also soon add more than two dozen dual locomotives. Two years from now, NJ Transit will begin phasing in 113 new self-propelled multi-level rail cars.

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He said despite the many challenges of the COVID pandemic, “we are currently advancing more than $4 billion in construction work out of our $17 billion capital plan.”

He said these projects include the Raritan River rail bridge, a new inspection facility in New Brunswick, revamped stations in Perth Amboy and Elizabeth, and the new Portal North rail bridge.

The class of 17 engineer trainees, which just completed a 78 week program and passed a final exam of more than 800 questions, will complete their final field training later this month.

A total of 94 new engineers in several graduating classes have joined NJ Transit since 2018, bringing the active roster of engineers for the Agency to 385.

Murphy noted 82 engineer prospects in six classes are still in training, and NJ Transit should be up to a full complement of 390 plus engineers with the next graduating class in the spring.

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