As the nation's largest statewide public transportation agency, NJ Transit demands a maintenance facility that can keep up with the needs associated with providing reliable rail service to a steadily expanding customer base. The agency provides more than 250,000 passenger rail trips on a typical weekday, operating 730 trains across 11 commuter rail lines that serve 162 rail stations across the state. This feat is accomplished by effective manipulation of a fleet of 907 rail cars and 182 locomotives.
The safety and reliability of NJ Transit's rail fleet relies largely on the work performed at the Meadows Maintenance Complex (MMC), which extends across 78 acres in the industrial area of Kearny, N.J. Opened in 1987, four years after the corporation took over and consolidated rail operations in New Jersey, the MMC is easily accessible to all of NJ Transit's rail equipment. Repair and inspection work take place inside several buildings that contain more than 500,000 square feet of space, and its yard has the capacity to store up to 60 locomotives, 50 cab cars and 200 coaches.
Most of the maintenance, major cleaning and repairs of NJ Transit's rail fleet takes place at the MMC, while the remainder is performed at smaller facilities throughout the state and under contract with Metro- North and Amtrak. Work at the MMC centers around keeping the locomotives and coaches in good condition to ensure safe, reliable and comfortable rail service for NJ Transit customers. The facility is equipped for equipment overhauls, heavy and intermediate repairs, periodic inspection, scheduled maintenance, major cleaning, component repair, laboratory testing and painting of NJ Transit's entire fleet of rail cars and locomotives.
The MMC is the work location for approximately 600 NJ Transit employees, including craft, supervisory, technical support, transportation, material stores, quality control, safety and training personnel. Each year, rail maintenance crews perform roughly 35,000 equipment inspections, based on scheduled maintenance and reports from train crews in the fi eld. In a typical year, NJ Transit oversees the replacement of 12,000 brake parts; 8,000 train wheels; 1,200 motors and 5,000 seats; and completes more than 40,000 exterior and interior cleanings. Plans for the MMC arose out of the need to centralize the daily upkeep and repair of rolling stock at one technologically advanced location. The facility was built to move NJ Transit's rail maintenance program into the 21st century, and it has accomplished that, with some adjustments along the way. An expansion project that began in 2003 is currently nearing completion in 2007, and the agency is already preparing for the future, anticipating needs related to capacity expansion initiatives such as the multilevel rail cars - the first of which will be placed into service in December - and the Trans- Hudson Express (THE) Tunnel project, which will double rail capacity between New Jersey and New York with construction of a second two-track tunnel underneath the Hudson River.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Before the MMC was built, NJ Transit faced the challenges inherent in the obsolete, inadequate and decentralized system of rail maintenance yards and shops that it inherited from private railroads. Seeds for a project to construct a new maintenance facility were rooted in the mid-1970s, when the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) authorized a consultant's study to evaluate the servicing, inspection and maintenance requirements and facilities for the rail fleet operated in service by NJDOT (NJ Transit) through the year 2010. The study was primarily funded by the Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA).