Overhaul of Amtrak's Rails at Penn Station to Cause Major Delays


"Yesterday was just the first meeting, but I am concerned that NJ Transit and the Long Island Railroad, which carry 90 percent of the passengers who use New York Penn Station, won't have an equal say over the fix schedule under the current management structure", Weinberg said.

Amtrak plans for "continuous rail service curtailments" during weekdays and rush hours from July 7 to 25 and August 4 to 28, according to state Sens. That work will take tracks 12 and 13 out of service for 10 days, the plan said.

Amtrak's replacement of aging tracks and other equipment, much of which dates to the 1970s, initially was scheduled to be completed over a two- or three-year period, mainly on nights and weekends.

A week after Amtrak announced that it would close some Penn Station tracks to carry out repairs on aging infrastructure, details are emerging on what that closure might entail.

Derailments on March 24 and April 3 caused delays up and down the corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. The second derailment, caused by old wooden cross-ties under the rails that inspectors had noted but didn't feel warranted immediate attention, took eight of 21 tracks out of commission for four days, causing crushing delays for hundreds of thousands of commuters.

That is a time that Amtrak typically uses to for maintenance and repairs that can't be done in several hours, according to the plan.

"Amtrak met with NJ Transit and Long Island Rail Road on Monday, and our commuter partners are now reviewing the initial plan and developing individual service plans". Schumer called the funding increase "a huge win for commuters in the region".

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"All groups are working with the common goal of creating service schedules that minimize impact on the traveling public when we do the necessary upgrades to Penn Station", spokeswoman Christina Leeds said in an email. Bob Gordon said. "We've got to convince them that this is a national issue".

Assemblyman John McKeon was also critical of the preliminary plans.

"New Jersey commuters endured a week of massive overcrowding and unacceptable delays in the week following the April 3 Amtrak derailment when eight tracks were shut down", Democratic Sen.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the LIRR, said it was in discussions with Amtrak and would ensure riders' best interests are represented.

"If you have experienced delays that have compromised your work situation, please stop by one of our Customer Service offices and pick up a delay letter for your employer", NJT Executive Director Steve Santoro said in an open letter posted on the railroad's website. He said recently, "The inability to prioritize is real and so are its effects: bad subway service, even worse bus service, broken rails, derailments, extensive delays, lack of redundancy and, ultimately, a threat to the engines of the economy".

New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road didn't respond to emailed requests for comment today.