Amtrak will shut down several tracks along the Northeast Corridor to make long-overdue rail repairs, a move set to cause mass delays to commuters traveling on the LIRR and NJ Transit, Amtrak announced at a press conference Thursday morning.
The fix work at Penn Station will be done on weekdays and weekends during the summer, but should be contained to just weekends by September. Other renewal work of various station tracks will begin in June 2018, with a majority of that work done on weekends.
Commuters who already have endured recent slowdowns at New York's Penn Station are about to hear about more potential delays. Two trains were derailed, causing train travel shut downs of several hours in and out of NY.
It's already been a hard spring for commuters who take New Jersey Transit trains into NY every day for work, and now federal officials are warning that it could also be a long summer, thanks to a series of major repairs that are being fast-tracked at Manhattan's Penn Station.
Work will begin in the most complex part of the station on its western side.
He declined several times to say how many or which tracks the repairs would affect, noting the agency would have more specifics following its meeting with NJ Transit and Long Island Rail Road officials next week.
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Hundreds of thousands of commuters and travelers from up and down the East Coast pass through the station each day.
The reports come to light as Amtrak and New Jersey Transit, which share tracks under the Hudson River to Manhattan, tell riders to expect months of inconvenience due to maintenance and repairs after two Amtrak derailments at New York Pennsylvania Station. That project was originally scheduled to be completed by sometime next year. Recent events added urgency.
Amtrak says that while they've tried to mitigate commuter disruption in the past, the sheer number of problems at the station over the last month has prompted more significant action. "That doesn't mean the assets are unsafe - they're not - but it does mean that they are prone to problems that impact reliability and performance and also increase the maintenance requirements in the station". "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". 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.
'It was clear to me that we needed to do a deep dive and look at the instructions we were providing our crews, Robert Lavell, vice-president and general manager of rail operations, wrote in a September 21, 2016, letter to Janet Lee, a deputy regional administrator for the federal railroad agency. 'When you get a speeding ticket and have points on your license, maybe you think twice about speeding the next time, as opposed to just getting a break, McKeon said.
Moorman also said Amtrak and the commuter railroads will review the coordination between their passenger concourses in the station, with the aim of developing a joint operations center to improve responses to service disruptions.