By Mike Frassinelli/The Star-Ledger
on February 18, 2014 at 9:26 AM, updated February 18, 2014 at 8:41 PM
Raritan Valley Line commuters next month will be able to get a trip into
New York without having to
transfer to another train in Newark,
but for now the "one-seat rides" will only be offered on weekdays
during off-peak travel hours, NJ Transit officials said today.
The one-seat rides are scheduled to begin Monday, March 3, when the first of five daily roundtrips into and out of New York Penn Station is offered, beginning with train No. 5126, expected to arrive in New York at 10:09 a.m.
For now, the one-seat rides will be for trains arriving at New York Penn Station between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays, or trains leaving the station between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The way Raritan Valley Rail Coalition Chairman Peter Palmer sees it, the first step in a four-step process has been accomplished with the off-peak service on weekdays.
Step two would be having any Raritan Valley Line train that leaves
after 8 p.m. be a one-seat ride. Steps three and four — weekend service and
full weekday rush-hour service — will not be as easy to accomplish, Palmer
He noted that due to Amtrak train tunnel maintenance on weekends, only one tunnel is available for
But, Palmer said, "We achieved step one and we’ll keep working. We’ve only been doing this for 15 years."
Palmer’s group has been fighting for the one-seat ride into
Manhattan for nearly two
Commuters on the Raritan Valley Line make up nearly one-tenth of NJ Transit’s weekday train ridership of about 302,000. However, they haven’t been able to get a train to
New York City
without stepping off their diesel-powered train in Newark and transferring to an
Diesels don’t operate in the train tunnel under the
For commuters, it was often aggravating to have to leave one train at Newark Penn Station and go down and up stairs to get to another one on a different platform.
But NJ Transit now has dual-powered locomotives that can switch between diesel and electric power, allowing the long-awaited one-seat rides to happen.
The Raritan Valley Line runs from
Bridge, in Hunterdon
County, to Newark Penn Station, with
stops in Annandale, Lebanon,
White House, North Branch, Raritan, Somerville, Bridgewater, Bound Brook, Dunellen, Plainfield,
Netherwood, Fanwood, Westfield, Garwood,
Cranford, Roselle Park and Union.
The transfer-free rides will originate from
as well as Raritan.
In addition to the one-seat rides, there will be more capacity on the
The train sets now have six double-decker cars plus a locomotive, but an extra multilevel train car will be added beginning March 3. The additional capacity for Raritan Valley Line customers is tied to the upcoming Pulaski Skyway rehabilitation project, which will limit lanes and close the Pulaski in the direction toward
New York for about two years.
One-seat rides cannot be offered at this time on weekends due to capacity restrictions at New York Penn Station that would require additional coordination with station owner Amtrak, officials said.