If the view out of the window of the NJ Transit train you ride has gotten cloudy or impossible to see through, it’s not time for a trip to the eye doctor.
The cloudy windows that have inspired complaints from riders on social media for several years need more than a squirt of window cleaner and a wipe down. They need to be replaced, and NJ Transit officials said that will happen as part of an $8 million program.
The issue has affected both generations of NJ Transit’s multilevel cars, and is caused by exposure to elements such as acid rain, heat, and ultra violet rays over the course of time, and other factors, said Jim Smith, an agency spokesman.
The agency was aware of rider complaints about “dirty’ and hard to see through windows, which happens because the material that windows are made from “clouds over time”, said Jim Sincaglia, NJ Transit rail operations general manager on Sept. 30. North Jersey.com first reported a replacement program was being developed.
Train car windows have to meet federal standards for more than just being see-through.
They also have to meet government standards for holding up when hit by a projectile and in case of a derailment. They also have to be flexible enough so that passengers and rescuers can remove them to access the train in case of a derailment or a crash, according to Federal Railroad Administration standards.
The two most common rail car window materials are tempered glass and a polycarbonate plastic. Metro-North Railroad and NJ Transit use a single pane of polycarbonate glazing almost a half inch thick, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Passengers and advocates have complained on social media about not being able to see out of train car windows, ranging from complaints about not being able to see the scenery on some of the more scenic rail lines to not being able to see what station they’ve arrived at.
It’s not for lack of trying to get the windows clearer, officials said. Earlier in the year, NJ Transit officials said crews even tried hand washing cars and windows.
“We have tried various types of restoration processes to no success at this point,” Smith said. We have also included different manufacturers of the windows to research if there is a process, and currently have not found a solution.”
The ultimate solution will be to replace the windows in 429 multi-level rail cars at an initial cost of $8 million, plus labor, Smith said.
“As we are aware of how important this is to the quality of our customers’ rail commute, we are working expeditiously to establish the most efficient replacement program and schedule, so work can begin as soon as possible,” he said.
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Larry Higgs may be reached at email@example.com.