Over the weekend the NJ Transit Rail put out a new SUPPLEMENTAL BULLETIN ORDER. It addresses changes to operations on both the Newark and Hoboken Division trains. The trains in question are terminating in NY Penn Station, Princeton, Gladstone and the Meadowlands Station. The B.O. advises you to stand in the eastern most vestibule coming through the North River Tunnels. It also advises you to communicate via Rule 21(D). I have worked into NY since the inception of Midtown Direct Service, I would prefer and advise you to take a safer course of action. The front vestibule in the winter is covered in ice and snow, with the doors normally frozen in place. This would leave you no escape route in an emergency. nor do I advocate trying to hold on with one hand while hitting communicating buttons with the other while the train’s own motion is throwing you side to side. The front vestibule is commonly referred to as a “killing zone” since anything the ALP runs over is thrown up into the vestibule and if the overhead catenary wire is damaged all of the debris is naturally thrown into the area where you are supposed to be standing. Also as all crews are well aware the communicating system is not always dependable and historically if a buzzer went off in the engine at the crossover typically the operator thinks there is an emergency. I do not advocate putting an overcrwoded train in an emergency application, when no real emergency exists. The overcrowded trains we work everyday would cause injuries to our passengers when we suddenly stop without a valid reason to do so.
I advise you to follow all the rules. If you have the engine head out, board the engine at your last station stop. Do not stop the train in the middle of a right a way and try to climb up the outside of the ALP. The safer course is to board at a station platform. Discuss this in your job briefing, and adjust as necessary. Once at your final station, then proceed to clear your train of passengers. The safety of the passengers and your crew members is of the utmost importance. Yes, it may be more time-consuming but the safe course is always the better course.
Please remember this quote from the New Jersey Transit Rail Safety Policy … ” NJ Transit Rail is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our co-workers, our customers and the communities we serve” …. ” We recognize the safety rules, training, and procedures are provided and must be followed to ensure safety. Also, we will strive to use our best judgment and make responsible decisions and take actions to prevent accidents and injuries” and .. ” …safety is a vital part of every job”
In closing, I will continue to monitor all aspects of operations to ensure that NJ Transit provides you with a safe work environment.
Please be safe at home and at work.
Stephen J. Burkert