Amtrak will take several tracks out of service for weeks at a time at Penn Station this summer, reducing train service by as much as 25 percent, the agency said.
The repair project will last between July 10 and Sept. 1, Amtrak said. Several tracks will be shut down in the western portion of the station, at which time at least 75 percent of trains will continue to operate.
Here’s what we know about how commuters will be affected during what Gov. Andrew Cuomo has dubbed the "summer of agony."
What service changes will be in place?
On weekdays between July 10 and Sept. 1, the following changes will be in effect:
Northeast Regional Service: Three round trip trains (six total trains) between New York City and Washington, D.C., will be canceled. Service between New York City and Boston will operate at currently scheduled levels.
Keystone Service: Three round trip trains (six total trains) will start and end in Philadelphia, and one round trip train (two total trains) will start and end at Newark, New Jersey. Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg will operate at currently scheduled levels.
Long-Distance Service: The Crescent, operating between New York City and New Orleans, will originate and terminate in Washington, D.C., daily during work period. Connections will be provided on other Northeast Corridor trains.
There will be 36 cars added to existing trains, the MTA said. There will also be new ferry routes from Long Island to Manhattan to accommodate 2,300 riders, and 200 coach buses will be put into service.
About 7,400 customers will be diverted to Hoboken every weekday morning, instead of being able to take a one-seat ride on the Morris & Essex Midtown Direct Line into New York, NJ Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro said. They will have to transfer either to another train or the ferry in order to get to the city, adding 30 to 45 minutes to their commutes.
What kind of repairs is Amtrak doing?
The first set of repairs will focus on the area of tracks and switches known as "A Interlocking," which are used to route trains entering the station from the Hudson River tunnels and the Long Island Rail Road's West Side Yard to various tracks and platforms. Moorman said the planned upgrades of track infrastructure will not include the East River tunnels leading into and out of Penn nor the station’s problem-plagued signal system.
Who's overseeing the project?
Amtrak, which owns Penn Station, is overseeing the project, but it has consulted with NJ Transit and the MTA, which operates the LIRR, according to officials. Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, however, called for Amtrak to allow “a professional, qualified, private station operator” to take over the repairs and manage the process.
What other reforms are being made at Penn Station?
Amtrak plans to hire a private company to manage the concourse-level areas. The new management will be overseen by Amtrak, NJ Transit and the LIRR. The need for a private company stemmed from problems on the concourse levels, including heavy crowding, temporary closures of some entrances, leaking roofs and communication problems.
Amtrak brought in MTA chief Thomas Prendergast, who stepped down in January, to “independently review the interaction, coordination and collaboration between the railroads' various passenger concourses within Penn Station."
In recent months, commuters on Amtrak, NJ Transit and the LIRR have been plagued with delays caused by a slew of infrastructure issues, including mismatched pieces of rail, dangling overhead electrical wires and faulty switches. The recent incidents, including two train derailments and multiple train stallings, forced Amtrak to accelerate its renewal plan.
"While a substantial amount of reconstruction has already been done at New York Penn Station, the remaining renewal work has been scheduled to take place over the next several years in order to minimize impacts on scheduled services,” Moorman said in a statement in April. “We can't wait long. This work needs to be done now."
With Newsday and Reuters