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First Work Day For New WTC PATH Station Nov 24, 2003 7:14 am US/Eastern

A commuter rail line connecting Manhattan with New Jersey that was severed during the World Trade Center attacks has been re-established following an emotional train trip undertaken by victims' family members. The first PATH train to Manhattan since the attacks rolled into the temporary trade center station Sunday. The train used also was the last to leave the trade center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Thelma Stuart, whose husband, Port Authority police officer Walwyn Stuart Jr., was instrumental in safely evacuating that train -- and who then returned to the trade center, where he died -- rode in the first car with her 3-year-old daughter, Amanda. "It's a great honor," she said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said re-establishing transportation between New Jersey and lower Manhattan "is really going to make an enormous difference to many people's lives and be part of the real revival of downtown Manhattan." "It's a resumption of normalcy," said New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, who joined Bloomberg and New Jersey Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg in the second car as it left Exchange Place in Jersey City, N.J.

As they emerged from the train, Bloomberg, McGreevey and the other officials shook hands with Port Authority workers and police officers and then gathered for a ceremony to rededicate the station. "Today, we're proud and we're pleased to bring back to the people of this region something that was taken from us on Sept. 11," said Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Regular passenger service between New Jersey and the World Trade Center station started later Sunday. "It was a bit emotional, a little sad, but it brings back a little normalcy and will bring people back to downtown New York," said Jaime De Jesus, who took the train into the new station.

The station was restored over 16 months for about $323 million, after crews gutted two train tunnels down to their iron frames and installed nearly 7,000 feet of new track. A permanent, $2 billion transit hub will take its place in 2006. The station is expected to accommodate up to 50,000 passengers a day. Before the attacks, the station handled about 67,000 daily passengers, who switched to ferries, cars, other trains and buses after the station was destroyed.

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