ON MAY 12 the NJ Transit board approved a US$604m design-build contract with Southern New Jersey Rail Group, a consortium of Bechtel and Adtranz, for the Camden-Trenton diesel light rail project, subject to NJT reaching agreement with Conrail by June 1 to operate a 7 1/2 min interval passenger service on the largely single-track route. On April 29 Federal Railroad Administrator Jolene Molitoris refused permission for NJT to run passenger and freight trains on the 54·7 km line simultaneously, claiming this ’would not achieve the level of safety contemplated by current and proposed FRA regulation’.
New Jersey Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein called the FRA’s decision ’shortsighted’, citing successful experience in Karlsruhe and Saarbrücken. ’In Europe, they’ve been mixing heavy rail and light rail for years, and we believe it is the right way to go,’ he said. NJT is negotiating with CSX and Norfolk Southern to see if they can reschedule the freight trains to run at night, as happens in San Diego and Baltimore.