New Jersey

LIRR, Amtrak Officials Plan Hearing Day After Yet Another Nightmarish Commute at Penn Station

What to Know

  • LIRR, Amtrak officials will hold a hearing on how to accommodate commuters during major infrastructure projects
  • Commuters are bracing themselves for what lies ahead when Amtrak begins those track repairs and other projects
  • LIRR, NJ Transit and Amtrak trains faced major delays Wednesday evening due to switch problems at Penn Station

Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road officials will answer to lawmakers Thursday about the ongoing issues at Penn Station that is constantly causing headaches for thousands of commuters at the already congested hub.

During a hearing, officials will lay out how they plan to accommodate commuters when a renewal plan and big infrastructure projects take place. It is expected to be held around 11 a.m.

Now, commuters are bracing themselves for what lies ahead when Amtrak begins those track repairs and other projects. Amtrak and NJ Transit have already announced commuters should prepare for daily delays.

An Amtrak spokesman said the rail service is looking at all possible options to accommodate customers during the Penn Station infrastructure project, including rerouting some trains through Grand Central Terminal.

The hearing comes after yet another day of massive commuter problems and delays at Penn Station for NJ Transit, LIRR and Amtrak. Crowds of commuters swelled so much at one point police had to block off some of the entrances to the busy station during Wednesday's evening rush. 

Police had reopened the station's closed entrances at 6:30 p.m., but delays had continued on the region's major transit lines hours after agencies had warned riders to steel themselves for another nightmarish commute. 

Officers blocked access to the station at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue at the height of rush hour because of "severe overcrowding" at the lower level of the station. Photos on social media showed officers, some with bullhorns, fending off angry commuters and closing gates as crowds crunched together, some refusing to budge. 

"All the money we pay," one defeated commuter said, shaking his head as police told him and others to find another way home. 

Commuters told stories of missing appointments and school events, but many said waiting in cramped conditions had become a part of commuting in a region plagued by high ridership and outdated infrastructure. 

"Living in New York City you tend to prepare for this, and know what's coming," one man said. 

But that didn't quell the growing frustration many riders felt. 

"It's a problem every day," one woman said. "It's not really fair." 

Police blocked off access to some of the entrances to Penn Station because of crowding amid delays on LIRR, NJ Transit and Amtrak. Checkey Beckford reports.

Shortly before heaps of workers headed home, NJ Transit had warned of hour-long delays as crews worked to correct the signal problems, which had limited the number of usable tracks on the eastern end of Penn. LIRR said its commuters would face similar delays.

This NYPD officer did his best communicating with crowds of commuters Wednesday as police blocked an entrance outside Penn Station amid delays.

Amtrak announced that its trains were also facing delays of at least a 1/2 hour. Boards showed that many trains traveling along the busy Northeast Corridor were on "Stand By." 

Much of the service had returned by 7:30 p.m., but platforms were packed and lingering delays trickled on into the evening. 

Rush-hour problems this week were just the latest in what has seemed to commuters like an incessant string of rail problems:

• On March 24 an Amtrak train derailed and bumped into an NJ Transit train.

• On April 3 a second derailment closed more than a third of New York Penn Station's tracks for four days.

• On April 14 a train got stuck in a tunnel for nearly three hours, leading to systemwide delays for travelers.

• On April 21 an Amtrak switch problem near Newark caused widespread delays.

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