NJ Transit to Unveil Dual-Mode Locomotive

 NJ Transit today plans to unveil its first locomotive powered by an engine that can operate on both diesel and electric lines.

"This is the first of its kind on any railroad in North America," NJ Transit spokesman Dan Stessel said of the dual-mode engine that will replace a diesel-only engine.

The agency is also expected to announce an expansion of its "quiet commute" program to Bergen County riders.

The popular program allows commuters a chance to find peace in the middle of the rush hour, by designated certain railcars as quiet cars where cellphone use, loud talking and other racket is shunned.

Starting June 1, the quiet car will be the first car on train heading into Hoboken, including trains on the Pascack Valley and Main and Bergen lines, and the last car on the train heading out, said Stessel.

The quiet cars are only in effect on trains that arrive in Hoboken between 6 and 10 a.m., and trains that depart Hoboken between 4 and 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, the dual-mode locomotive NJ Transit will unveil today is just one of 26 the agency ordered in 2008 from Canadian-based Bombardier Transit Corp. The total project cost is $310 million.

The engines had originally been purchased with NJ Transit's now defunct Hudson River commuter rail tunnel in mind, Stessel said.

Because the engines can operate on both diesel and electrical lines, commuters would have been able to take a dual-mode locomotive directly from the Pascack Valley Line in Bergen County -- where trains run on diesel only -- loop around in Secaucus and go through a new Hudson River tunnel and directly into New York Penn Station, without having to switch to an electric-powered train as they do now.

Governor Christie canceled the tunnel project, known as Access to the Region's Core, or ARC, last October, citing potential cost overruns, but Stessel said NJ Transit Executive Director Jim Weinstein saw value in the dual-mode engines.

Stessel said 60 percent of the transit agency's lines are not electrified and 40 percent are electrified.

With the dual-mode engine, a train using a combination line can switch to electric and save on diesel, Stessel said. "What happens now is the train will run on diesel the whole way."

E-mail: rouse@northjersey.com

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