The new chairman noted he would emphasize supporting Governor Phil Murphy’s goals of improving rail service and increasing funding, not just for the Raritan Valley Line, but also for the critically important Gateway Project and other NJ Transit efforts.
Bergen supports the Gateway Project, which includes the construction of an additional two-track tunnel to New York. He added that the existing network is on “life support,” and in dire need of repair and expansion. Construction of new tunnels under the Hudson River could provide sufficient capacity under the Hudson River to give the Raritan Valley Rail line a full schedule of one-seat rides to New York Penn Station.
“The importance of the Gateway project to the traveling public and the regional economy cannot be understated," Bergen said. "There are recent news reports of a setback in funding from the Trump administration. This is a project of utmost consequence and one that the RVRC has been vociferously advocating for.”
Bergen added he would also support a current NJ State legislative bill which includes $5 million in state funds for capacity improvements to the Raritan Valley Line.
To further improve service, the RVRC supports a rail “flyover” that would alleviate switching problems between the Raritan Valley Line and Amtrak, which causes delays. It also supports the triple tracking of a section of the rail line and it urges further work on a same-platform transfer at Newark Penn Station.
The RVRC was created in 1998 to advocate for a one-seat ride on the Raritan Valley Line. At the time, Raritan Valley riders had to switch trains at Newark because diesel engines were not allowed into the tunnels under the Hudson River.
In 2014, NJ Transit began using dual-mode locomotives that could switch from diesel to electric power, making it possible to have a direct ride into New York City. The first midday, off-peak weekday one-seat rides into New York started in March 2014, and evening service started in January 2015. However, rush-hour commuters still have to change trains in Newark.
The Raritan Valley Line is a commuter rail service operated by NJ Transit which serves passengers in municipalities in Union, Somerset, Middlesex and Hunterdon counties. Union County stops include: Union, Roselle Park, Cranford, Garwood, Westfield, Fanwood, Netherwood and Plainfield. From Union County, the trains travel westward to High Bridge with eleven additional stops.
For more information, visit the RVRC website at www.raritanvalleyrail.com