New Jersey Transit now runs trains to Montclair on week-ends.  The service, which began on November 8th, runs as far as Bay Street Station every two hours during the day and every three hours in the evening. This marks the first Sunday service since 1959 and the first Saturday service since 1966.  The Lackawanna Coalition and other rail advocates had pushed for this service since the Montclair Connection was opened in 2002, and town officials began to push for the service earlier this year.  The Lackawanna Coalition has asked that service be extended to the Montclair State Station and run every hour.  Trains connect with Morris & Essex Line trains at Broad Street Station and provide service to Hoboken as well as Montclair.
Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin questioned the cost-effectiveness of the NJT proposal to build a deep-cavern terminal under 34th Street in Manhattan, rather than bring new tunnels and tracks to the East Side.  In his column published on Monday, December 21st, Doblin said: "the reality is that putting more people in the same part of Manhattan is just plain dumb."  Doblin criticized the proposed deep-cavern terminal, because New York's water tunnel lies between the proposed terminal and the East Side, making it impossible to extend the tracks to Grand Central Terminal.  He said: "This should be a deal-breaker for the project as planned.  It makes little sense to expend billions and billions of dollars for a less-than-perfect solution."  The Record is the first major media outlet to question the NJT plan.
The Board of Directors of New Jersey Transit approved $1.15 Billion in contracts for the "ARC" (Access to the Region's Core, also known as Mass Transit Tunnel) and Portal Bridge Projects on December 9th, the last Board meeting before incumbent Governor Jon Corzine leaves office.  The contracts call for construction under Manhattan to build a tunnel alignment that would lead to the proposed "deep cavern" terminal to be located 175 feet below 34th Street.  The Lackawanna Coalition and other rail advocates have objected to the deep cavern terminal, claiming that the terminal itself would be inconvenient and unsafe, and that the $3 billion price tag for the terminal alone represents a waste of taxpayer money.  The Coalition called the issue a "litmus test" for the incoming Christie Administration, claiming that saving the cost of the deep-cavern terminal would also improve convenience and connections for New Jersey's rail riders.  Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton Line riders are slated to be evicted from the existing Penn Station when their trains are moved into the deep cavern terminal under the current NJT plan.
An alliance of passenger rail advocates in the region has proposed and endorsed a plan to connect any proposed new rail tunnels and the tracks they contain to the existing Penn Station, rather than building the deep-cavern terminal proposed by New Jersey Transit.  The plan, known as the "Penn Station First" Plan, also calls for construction of new track to the Grand Central Terminal area on Manhattan's East Side, and eventual through-running between New Jersey and Long Island or Westchester and Connecticut.  According to the proposal, through-running would use train sets more efficiently than the current in-and-out operation, saving money and allowing more service.  The New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP), the Empire State Passengers Association (ESPA) and the Regional Rail Working Group (RRWG) have joined the Lackawanna Coalition in proposing the Penn Station First Plan.
The Penn Station First Plan is gaining momentum at the national level and in other regions of the nation.  Three national organizations have endorsed it: the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), the Rail Users' Network (RUN) and the National Corridors Initiative (NCI).  In addition, statewide and regional passenger rail advocacy coalitions from as far away as Virginia, Florida, Louisiana and the Chicago area have endorsed the plan.  The future of Penn Station is important to rail operations in the entire Eastern half of the nation, since Amtrak trains originate there and go as far as Chicago, Miami and New Orleans.  Other trains go to New England the Canada.  Sierra Club chapters in New Jersey and Connecticut have also endorsed the advocates' plan.

NJT announced that the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit (HBLRT) line will be extended to Tenafly on the former Northern Branch. The line will be extended from its current northern terminus at Tonnelle Avenue, allowing through service to and from Hoboken. The other alternative under consideration had been a diesel-powered shuttle. Local rail advocates, including several from the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) had pushed for the light rail choice.

Service to Scranton came a step closer, when the Federal Transit Administration issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Scranton project.  This clears the way for further engineering work, before construction contracts are awarded.  Political leaders and rail advocates in New York State are also expressing interest in the extension of service to Binghamton and beyond.  The affected lines were once part of the Lackawanna Railroad, and the Lackawanna Coalition supports the proposed extension of service.
The Lackawanna Coalition supports additional tunnel capacity to Manhattan, but opposes the proposed "deep cavern" terminal that is planned to accompany the proposed additional tunnels.  We continue to question the affordability of the deep-cavern terminal portion of the project, and we object to the planned eviction of Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton Line riders from the existing Penn Station.  NJT says the groundbreaking ensures the eventual completion of the project as planned, but we know that ground has been broken for the Second Avenue Subway four times at last count.  The line was planned in the 1920s, when a subway was built in Cincinnati.  The Cincinnati tunnel and stations were never used in transit service.