Dinky shuttle train will start up sooner than expected

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The Dinky shuttle train, which runs between the Princeton Rail Station and the Princeton Junction train station, will be put back on its tracks on May 12.

The new date is nearly two weeks ahead of NJ Transit’s target date of May 24, and fulfills the agency’s commitment to have train service in operation before Memorial Day.

“This is very welcome news, especially to commuters,” Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert said.

The Dinky was taken out of service in October 2018 so NJ Transit could install a high-tech safety system – Positive Train Control – on its rail network. Crews were needed to help meet the Dec. 31, 2018 deadline to install the new safety system.

The Dinky was expected to be placed back in service by mid-January, but service remains suspended. NJ Transit has substituted a bus for the Dinky between the Princeton Rail Station on Alexander Street and the Princeton Junction train station in West Windsor Township.

Gov. Phil Murphy, who announced the restoration of train service on the Dinky line, said the state’s economy relies on residents getting where they need to go reliably and safely.

“That is why I am so pleased to announce the early restoration of NJ Transit’s Princeton Branch Dinky Line, which will allow our commuters to get to work, school and back again free of disruption,” Gov. Murphy said.

NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett and New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti also were pleased to let the public know that the Dinky will soon be back in service.

“I did not want it to remain out of service a minute longer than necessary, and I am grateful that we are able to resume service nearly two weeks ahead of schedule,” Corbett said.

State Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), who chairs the Assembly Transportation Committee, said the restoration of service on the Dinky line is welcomed news for those who depend on it daily and who have been waiting for service to be returned.

“The early reopening of the Dinky commuter rail line brings us closer to being back on track with more complete rail service,” Benson said.

“The Assembly Transportation Committee will continue to monitor and do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety and dependability of service for all riders,” Benson said.

Meanwhile, a 25-percent discount to ride the NJ Transit bus to the Princeton Junction train station went into effect March 1. It will remain in effect until the full restoration of train service, at which point it will be extended for another month to offset the full-cost fares in February.

NJ Transit officials cautioned that in advance of the May 12 resumption date, test trains and rail equipment will begin to operate on the Dinky track. The public should stay alert and be aware that railroad equipment can operate at any time, in any direction and at various speeds.