NEWARK, N.J. — New Jersey Transit officials blame the cancellation of 35 trains on Columbus Day on engineers unexpectedly taking the holiday off.

NJ Transit previously announced Monday it was cross-honoring tickets for Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton lines, but didn’t initially give a reason. ( ) reports officials say 20 engineers unexpectedly took the day off when they were scheduled to work, leading to train cancellations during the afternoon and evening.

Union officials dispute NJ Transit’s account by saying only five engineers were unexpected no-shows.

James Brown, general chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, says the other 15 engineers took compensated holidays — which are similar to personal days.

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