What to Know
- Amtrak is calling its first week of summer-long track work at New York's Penn Station a success
- Friday marked the 5th day of major repairs that are forcing commuter rail lines to cut back schedules at the nation's busiest train station
- Work to replace tracks and switches is even a bit ahead of schedule, according to Amtrak COO Scot Napartek
So far, so good.
Amtrak is calling its first week of summer-long track work at New York's Penn Station a success.
Friday marked the fifth day of major repairs that are forcing commuter rail lines to cut back schedules at the nation's busiest train station. The work is to go through the end of August.
Amtrak chief operating officer Scot Naparstek says the first week went smoothly and work to replace tracks and switches is even a bit ahead of schedule: already two aging switches on the western edge of the station have been replaced. He stopped short of of predicting it could be finished before Labor Day as projected.
Napartsek commends commuters for their patience and ability to adapt to new schedules by taking earlier or later trains or other forms of transportation.
He says there were no other problems such as overhead wire failures in tunnels that would have slowed down the project this week. He calls the week "very good."
Amtrak says more than 90 percent of trains have been on time, and no incidents or accidents have gotten in the way. And for the most part, connecting subways have behaved better than they had recently.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had predicted a "summer of hell" for commuters after plans for the repairs were announced this spring. But on Tuesday he praised the advance planning and said "the reports are all good."
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday, "It certainly seems to be going a little better than expected. These last few days have been better than we feared."
Riders say they're relieved the so-called summer of hell has so far not lived up to its name.
"Not bad at all," said Marci Ross of Long Beach. "Every morning, my train is either on time or early, and I take the 4:40 home and I've never had a problem."
"I was planning for the worst because that's what they're calling it, the summer of hell," said Alicia Spellman of Ronkonkoma. "But so far, I'm great."
Crews are replacing aging equipment such as signals and several thousand feet of track over a two-month period. Amtrak, which owns and operates the station, had been performing the work on nights and weekends and planned to complete it in a few years, but two derailments and other problems this spring persuaded it to step up the pace.
New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road have given commuters the option to ride subways, ferries or buses and have reduced fares for those riders whose lines are most affected.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said its PATH trains from Hoboken and Jersey City, New Jersey, cross-honored an average of about 23,000 NJ Transit fares on the first four days. Some NJ Transit rail lines are being diverted to Hoboken during morning and afternoon peak periods.