Rail commuter delays likely this summer due to Penn Station repairs

Rail commuter delays likely this summer due to Penn Station repairs

Three train lines use the 21 tracks into and out of Penn Station, so it's likely that the LIRR, NJ Transit, and Amtrak itself will all be subject to some sort of service changes.

New Jersey Transit executive director Steven Santoro said he also is concerned about potential delays for commuters.

- Amtrak has announced plans to disrupt train service into and out of NY Penn Station for long-term fix work of its aging infrastructure beginning in May.

The two transit agencies have drawn ire from legislators and commuters over the past month after a pair of derailments at Penn Station crippled service throughout the region for days and a power failure stranded 1,200 NJ Transit riders in a Hudson River tunnel for almost three hours. That arrangement has come under scrutiny since the recent disruptions, as Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie threatened to withhold NJ Transit's payments until an independent inspector could verify the infrastructure was in a state of good fix.

"The events of the past month have shown that we just have to step up our game there", he said.

Earlier Friday, New Jersey legislators grilled Amtrak officials, demanding to know why it took two derailments to realize its decrepit Penn Station tracks posed a major safety risk.

"There will be work during the weekdays but it's certainly not going to be every day this summer or anything like that", Amtrak President Wick Moorman said.

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"It is our goal to cause the least amount of disruption in the station that we can".

The MTA and LIRR also failed to develop a specific implementation plan with Amtrak, which actually owns the tunnels, to complete this badly needed work. In future years, the new Gateway Tunnel project between New Jersey and Penn Station may become one of, if not the highest priority. "We will jointly arrive at the best plan that we can, announce it to everyone in plenty of time, including the implications for service that you're asking about, so that people have time to prepare for it". "In light of serious issues surrounding Penn Station. and its failing infrastructure, Long Island commuters have faced unprecedented hardship that must be addressed", Kaminsky wrote. "We are looking at a lot of assets that are supposed to be renewed".

Moorman, a former Norfolk-Southern executive, said the tracks at Penn Station are more complex than anything he's seen elsewhere in the United States or Europe.

"If they're talking about cancellations and delays we need to analyze that very quickly in terms of the impact to our customers", Santoro said. "So that ballet between the three railroads and the location of the track being taken out of service is going to impact how much service we can provide".

Moorman urged lawmakers to press the case for federal funding for Gateway, a colossal $24 billion project that would build new tunnels under the Hudson, expand rail capacity in Newark and NY, replace the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River, and build new facilities for Penn Station in Manhattan.

Moorman said on Thursday that he does not anticipate any "substantial reduction in funding" at the end of the federal budgeting process for next year. If the [track outages] are on the north side of the station, that's a different answer.

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