What types of NJ Transit trains are most likely to leave you stranded? Read the scorecard.

NJ Transit passengers who board a multi-deck car have the best chance of getting to work trouble-free.

Not surprisingly, commuters aboard Arrow III electric trains, which date back to the era of leisure costumes and disco music, are the most likely to be delayed or have their train canceled. due to mechanical failure.

How prone are individual cars and locomotives in NJ Transit’s fleet to problems and how many miles do they travel before a problem takes them out of service?

This measurement is called the “average distance between failures”, or the number of kilometers traveled by different types of trains and the rail fleet between failures. In this case, the higher the number, the more reliable the equipment.

After several months of requests and questions from NJ Transit’s vice chairman of the board, Cedrick Fulton, about which types of trains break down the most, NJ Transit released figures for September 2021 at the end of last month. .

“It helps to separate the type of equipment, it gives more clarity,” Fulton said. “The statistics bear witness to the challenge posed by older equipment. “

This information came as trains canceled due to equipment failures rose to 106 in October from 87 in September.

Which trains are most prone to breakdowns and which are the most reliable is critical information for commuters, said Len Resto, president of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers and conductor of the Morris & Essex rail line.

“It shows how urgent it is to replace aging equipment and it is also a window into the effectiveness of the Meadowlands Maintenance Complex (MMC) (to keep old trains running),” he said. . “Runners can look at this and find that if they go up on arrows, for example, they can choose another method, given how often they seem to break down.”

The tiered car “trailers” that are pulled by a locomotive have the most impressive statistics, covering 967,471 miles between breakdowns in September, the latest statistics available.

Since their introduction in 2006, multi-deck cars have become the backbone of NJ Transit’s car fleet as the agency has moved away from single-deck cars that carry fewer people.

The first generation of multi-levels entered service in 2006. They will reach the age of 20 in five years and are expected to undergo a mid-life overhaul over the next two years as part of a deployed fleet plan. up to date, said Jim Smith, a spokesperson for NJ Transit. in a previous interview.

A railcar is as good as the locomotive that pulls it. None of NJ Transit’s locomotives exceeded the five-digit mark.

The newest and most versatile ALP 45 DP dual-mode locomotive fleet did not cover 20,000 miles, running 19,746 between breakdowns in September.

The backbone of the electrified fleet, the ALP 46 electric locomotives, averaged 26,490 miles between failures, the best of four types of locomotives on the railroad.

The original ALP 46 locomotives were built between 2001 and 2002 and are expected to be rebuilt at the age of 24. The next-generation ALP46A engines were built between 2007 and 2009 and will be overhauled at age 12, said Jim Smith and NJ Transit spokesperson.

Overhauls extend the life of locomotives and save the cost of purchasing new ones.

The PL42 traveled 13,646 miles between failures. Most of the PL42 fleet, built between 2004 and 2006, will be retired and replaced with the dual-mode ALP 45 after officials at NJ Transit determined in July 2020 that it would cost more money to rebuild them than to rebuild them. replace them.

In April, the first of 26 dual-mode ALP 45 DP locomotives intended to replace them was delivered.

The PL42s did little better than the two oldest types of locomotives in the fleet, the GP40Ps which were built in the 1960s, rebuilt in the 1990s and the 2 isolated F40PHCat-2 locomotives built in the early 1980s. . These locomotives traveled 13,486 miles between failures.

The reason is the demand and the ability of each locomotive to provide power at the head of the line for lighting, heating or cooling the train, Smith said. The GP40s work mainly with Comet wagons, which have a lower demand for HEP allowing the locomotive to complete its journey in the event of a mechanical problem.

The PL42 propulsion system prioritizes delivering HEP to the train, Smith said. The locomotive will reduce propulsion in order to provide the requested level of HEP, which will affect its ability to travel under similar circumstances, affecting the MDBF, Smith said.

Cars that are not self-propelled have fewer problems with them and have run the longest between breakdowns.

After the high-performance multi-level cars, the Comet series single-level cars have the second best record with 342,500 miles between breakdowns. The most recent are the Comet Vs delivered between 2002 and 2004, followed by the Comet IV cars built in 1996. After the Arrows, the Comet IVs are the next cars scheduled for retirement, Smith said.

Comet II cars were built from 1982 to 1983 and rebuilt between 1999 and 2003.

Multi-level cabin cars fitted with locomotive controls traveled 87,792 miles, followed by Comet cabin cars with 62,425 miles between failures. Car taxis are more complicated because they have the same equipment as a locomotive cab.

At the bottom are the Arrow III cars, which cover 10,185 miles between breakdowns. Those 43-year-old trains are expected to be replaced with 113 multi-level self-propelled cars from 2023, Smith said.

“The main drivers (in the number of failures) are the oldest vehicles in the fleet, the Arrows and GP 40s, aged 43 and 53,” said James Sincaglia, acting general manager of railway operations at NJ Transit.

This report by type of equipment may be short-lived. The graphic is not included in the documents from the November 30 board operations and customer service committee meeting, which were sent out publicly on November 24.

“The board should be part of every board / operations (committee) meeting because it is important information,” Resto said.

In its place is a projection of how the new equipment could increase the distance traveled by the rail fleet between breakdowns.

The 113 multi-level drive cars and overhauled electric locomotives could increase the kilometers between breakdowns to 100,000 miles by 2024 for the rail fleet. New non-motorized multi-level III cars replacing the older single-level Comet rail cars are expected to bring the fleet’s reliability count to 120,000 miles by 2033.

“We expect the average distance between failures to be exponentially higher,” Sincaglia said.

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Larry Higgs can be reached at [email protected].

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