(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

In Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) estimation, the New Year begins Tuesday.

On one day a year, New Jersey’s politically connected pile into Amtrak cars to ride the Northeast Corridor to Washington to rub elbows with its state’s congressional delegation. It’s a 77-year tradition hosted by the state’s Chamber of Commerce.

The business group’s Web site boasts this quote from Christie about the event: “The year really does not begin until the Chamber dinner in Washington when we gather to review the last year and look ahead to what New Jersey’s future can once again be.”

(Does that mean anything that happened in, for example, early January, doesn’t count?)

February snow sidelined the trip, so the business types, lawyers and lobbyists board the train Tuesday morning for their rescheduled journey south. Congress is on recess, so the New Jersey members attending will make a special trip back to the capital. Christie is slated to give the event’s keynote address, but he skips the train ride, opting to risk the traffic on Delaware Memorial Bridge.

The event is called “the Walk to Washington,” but the walking apparently refers to the long strides up and down the train cars where those who enjoy proximity to power can sip cocktails in the aisles as they schmooze on their three-hour ride. We’ve heard it used to be an off the rails, drunken affair, but has tamed in recent years.

To ride the train, and attend a dinner and reception is $690 for a non-Chamber member.

This may be a good opportunity for Christie to hit up New Jersey’s movers and shakers for some cash. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the governor’s campaign owes more than $300,000 in legal fees for the bridge lane closure investigation.