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Storm could delay rail work on damaged NJ lines

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A nor'easter could set back repairs to NJ Transit's rail system that's offering limited service in the wake of Sandy.

NJ Transit spokesman John Durso Jr. said Wednesday that crews aren't allowed to perform some types of work if winds surpass 20 mph. That could affect repairs on wires and towers.

NJ Transit resumed partial service last Friday. The Northeast Corridor, Main and Port Jervis Lines and Raritan Valley Line are on modified schedules. The North Jersey Coast Line and Bergen and Pascack Valley lines are suspended, as are the Montclair-Boonton and Morris & Essex lines.

On the Bergen and Pascack Valley lines, a loss of electricity has left gates, switches and signals in need of repair.

The worst-hit line is the North Jersey Coast Line in the area of the Raritan River and bay, where two bridges suffered extensive damage. The second-worst area is in Kearny in northern New Jersey, where tracks were washed out and trees and towers that hold overhead wires were toppled onto the Montclair-Boonton and Morris & Essex lines.

Durso didn't give estimates on when the suspended lines would return to service. Service into New York has been hampered because one of Amtrak's two tunnels into the city is still inoperable. An Amtrak spokesman didn't immediately return a phone message Wednesday.

On Wednesday, NJ Transit carried 23,275 customers into Manhattan during the morning commute. That's about half the number that normally would ride in, according to Durso.

NJ Transit has added more buses to connect commuters with ferry service into Manhattan. About 350 buses were provided by the federal Department of Transportation to go along with more than 150 that NJ Transit keeps in reserve to use in emergencies, Durso said.