Restrictions Continue as Amtrak Repairs Tunnel Cables

Amtrak workers continued repairs Thursday on a 300-foot-long section of electrical cable in the railroad's tunnel under the Hudson River as officials work around them to determine what caused power failures last week that led to a series of delays for train travelers.

The section of cable is in the south tube of the tunnel and could be fixed by Monday, Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz said. Crews have been working late at night when fewer trains are running and one of the two tubes can be taken out of service. When the cable in the south tube is finished, workers will shift to the north tube where another cable malfunctioned last week, Schulz said.

The high-voltage cables run the length of the 3-plus miles from an electrical substation on Penn Station's east side, through tunnels under the station and out to another substation just outside the tunnel in New Jersey, according to Schulz.

Like much of the infrastructure up and down Amtrak's Northeast corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston, the cables date back to the first half of the 20th century and are considered past their useful life.

Faults in the two cables last week caused delays for commuters on four out of five days and again this Monday. Amtrak continued to restrict the number of trains in the tunnel at any one time while the repair work continued, though delays were negligible.

While Schulz said having two of the four cables fail is a rare occurrence, the situation renewed discussion of how to fund already existing plans to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, currently campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are expected to meet soon with federal transportation officials to discuss the tunnel project. Cuomo said Wednesday the project will need more than a proposed $3 billion from the federal government to get the estimated $14 billion project off the ground.

Washington committed $3 billion to a Hudson tunnel project several years ago that Christie eventually killed over concerns that New Jersey would be forced to cover billions in cost overruns. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the state of New Jersey had committed roughly equivalent amounts to the project.

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