Direct Raritan Valley train service to NYC to resume

File Photo
A train on NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley Line pulls into Garwood on its way to New York. Limited direct service to New York Penn Station, where passengers will not need to change trains in Newark, will resume on Nov. 4 after more than a year of being suspended.

Off-peak “one-seat ride” service to New York City will resume on the Raritan Valley Line on Monday, Nov. 4, after more than a year of being suspended, Gov. Phil Murphy announced a press conference at the Westfield Train Station.

According to the announcement, there will be five midday train departures, both inbound and outbound, and three evening roundtrip departures. The former 9:53 p.m. departure from Raritan to New York, and the 12:08 a.m. departure from New York to Raritan will not be restored “due to the need to inspect and prepare dual-powered trains for the next morning’s service,” an Oct. 14 release from Murphy’s office said.

NJ Transit did not issue a release announcing the restoration.

The one-seat ride means commuters in and out of New York City will not have to transfer to another train in Newark. Because diesel trains are generally used on the Raritan Valley Line, and the rail tunnels in and out of New York City have a limited capacity, RVL commuters must disembark their initial train, whether leaving from New York or New Jersey, and board a second train to complete their trip.

NJ Transit suspended the one-seat ride in September 2018 in order to meet a federal mandate to install positive train control equipment on all its trains. The devices are designed to require an actively engaged driver to be operating the train.

The Atlantic City Line was completely shut down at the same time, but was restored in May.
At the time both lines had their service cancelled or curtailed, NJ Transit said it expected to restore the trains “early” in 2018.

Despite NJ Transit announcing in December 2018 that it had met the federal requirements for installing PTC, it said in May this year that the one-seat service on the RVL would not be restored until September.

Local officials, through a group called the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, began advocating for a one-seat ride on the Raritan Valley Line in 1998, and the first off-peak direct ride into Manhattan along the Raritan Valley Line was launched in March 2014, during midday hours. In January 2015, the one-seat ride was offered after 8 p.m. on weekdays.

Annually, 2.8 million trips are made to New York via the RVL, according to NJ Transit, which provides approximately 105,000 direct trains per year to New York Penn Station on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line, Montclair-Boonton Midtown Direct and Morris and Essex Midtown Direct lines, as well as the Raritan Valley Line.