Another hellish commute for Long Island Rail Road riders appeared narrowly avoided Thursday morning after Amtrak apparently quickly fixed a "track defect" that had the MTA poised to cancel and divert trains through rush hour.
The LIRR had canceled or diverted several peak trains before 7:40 a.m. because of what transit sources described as a broken track tie, the same issue that caused the April 3 NJ Transit derailment, with Track 18. But shortly after announcing the service changes, the LIRR reinstated the canceled trains and later tweeted, "Track status upgraded by Amtrak. Not necessary for LIRR to cancel/divert rush hr trains."
Residual delays were possible for riders in and out of Penn Station, though.
NJ Transit, meanwhile, told customers days ago to anticipate regular delays of around 15 minutes into and out of the transit hub for at least the next week amid ongoing Amtrak work and inspections following a series of derailments and other flaps that plunged riders into the depths of commuting despair.
On Thursday morning, Amtrak announced details of an aggressive plan to improve infrastructure and restore aging tracks and equipments. In a nutshell, Amtrak had planned to fix all existing problems on weekends over the next two years, but changed course. Officials said they could complete the work over just 100 days if they shut down some tracks through the summer.
PATH riders had their own problems, Thursday. Some sort of police investigation caused delays on trains to World Trade Center, then a complete suspension of service around 9:45 a.m. Service resumed in about 15 minutes with lingering delays; details on the police investigation weren't clear.
The roads weren't much better for commuters Thursday. Delays topped 60 minutes at the upper George Washington Bridge at one point because of a crash involving a tractor-trailer on the Cross Bronx Expressway. The crash cleared shortly before 6:30 a.m. but delays are still very heavy. The lower level was experiencing delays as well. Separately, back-ups were also reported at the Lincoln Tunnel as the morning rush got underway.