Hardt has a reputation in the transit industry for putting great faith in people who work with him. He says he especially looks for passion in the people on his team. Hardt says he is largely motivated by the fact that "this is a service business in every respect and service means people and relationships. That's what drives me and, I believe, the people on our River LINE team.
" North says Bombardier's dedication and commitment to the light rail operation are well appreciated within NJ Transit. He adds, "DBOM consortiums can be complex organizations to do business with, and I'm sure they feel likewise about NJ Transit. We are a highly engaged, strong-willed owner that takes a hands-on approach to all aspects of operations, maintenance and service delivery on the River LINE. A lesser contractor might sit back and wait for us to tell them what to do, or worse, find our high degree of involvement to be a constant source of confl ict. Thankfully, Bombardier and NJ Transit have found productive ways to draw the best out of each other on the River LINE by focusing on our common interests."
The principals now involved in the River LINE clearly believe in it. They somehow hark back to its original champion, the late Senator Haines. In particular, Hardt speaks of how the team is constantly looking for new ways to keep the River LINE growing and improving. Respect for the line is growing in the industry, he says, and that is making it easier to attract more of the talent required to expand and constantly help NJ Transit meet the operational and financial pressures it is under.
Most transit managers yearn for at least one pressure faced by the River LINE — demand for more service. Passengers have requested extended hours of operation right from the start, and that can be a challenge. For 30 of its 34 miles, the River LINE uses the fully rebuilt Bordentown Secondary line, purchased in 1999 from Conrail for $67.5 million as a cost-effective means of securing a strategic route that minimized rightof- way acquisition and construction. This line traces its roots back to a Pennsylvania Railroad predecessor, the Camden & Amboy, which opened for freight and passengers in 1832 and thereby became New Jersey's first common carrier railroad.
Passenger service on the Bordentown Secondary lasted until the early 1960s. When it faded away, what was left was an extensive and complicated freight operation serving factories that once made this region an industrial breadbasket of America. As the civic slogan says, "Trenton makes, the world takes." And the same goes for numerous other River LINE communities, too.
The freight service remains today and is vital to firms that survived the general industrial decline faced by traditional manufacturing zones of the Eastern seaboard in the post-World War II era. When NJ Transit purchased the track for the River LINE, Conrail retained operating rights to serve on-line shippers on behalf of its joint owners, CSX and Norfolk Southern.
The line is operated under NORAC Rule 261 with an entrance/exit NX logic rail traffic control system, bi-directional wayside signaling, automatic train stop protection for the River LINE trains and electric track derails for the freights, but complications are inherent in time sharing. The River LINE's 20 advanced DMUs are built to lighter European standards than traditional North American main line rail passenger equipment, and they can't be easily operated simultaneously with the heavyweight freight trains.
As well, the line is largely single-track with passing sidings. Mixing a 15-minute peak/30-minute off-peak transit service with the time variables of freight switching could be an operational nightmare for both parties. But it's not.
Under a Federal Railroad Administration waiver, temporal separation can take care of the issue, giving River LINE DMUs exclusive occupancy during the day and Conrail access at night. When it was first inaugurated, the River LINE's window of operation was 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Friday, all of Saturday night and Sunday morning. Conrail trains would scurry out to do their work after the last DMUs retired to the two end-of-theline lay-up yards. A third yard, mid-line at Burlington, has been added to stretch the operating window over part of the route.