SOMERVILLE, NJ - Replacing longtime chairman and now-retired Somerset County Freeholder Peter S. Palmer, Union County Freeholder Bruce H. Bergen has been named chairman of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, a rail transit advocacy group representing towns and counties along the NJ Transit Raritan Valley line.
“Somerset County remains committed to the work of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, in particular its ongoing efforts to expand one-seat ride,” said Freeholder Brian G. Gallagher, Somerset County’s new RVRC representative. The Somerset County Planning Division provides administrative and technical support to the RVRC.
Bergen expressed the RVRC’s support for the Gateway Project, which includes the construction of an additional two-track tunnel to New York, adding 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.
Sign Up for E-News
“The importance of the Gateway project to the traveling public and the regional economy cannot be understated,” Bergen said. “While 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. While some suggest shrinking the scope of the Gateway project is a solution to the funding problem, reality calls for full completion of the work.”
He said he also would support a current New Jersey legislative bill that includes $5 million in state funds for capacity improvements to the Raritan Valley Line.
To further improve the Raritan Valley Line, the RVRC supports a rail “flyover” that would alleviate switching problems between the Raritan Valley Line and Amtrak, which today causes train delays. The coalition 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 that serves passengers in municipalities in Union, Somerset, Middlesex and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey.
For more information, visit the RVRC website at www.raritanvalleyrail.com