What to Know
- Penn Station undergoes critical infrastructure repairs and upgrades for 8 weeks this summer; repairs are being made on 4 to 6 tracks
- Amtrak said no changes will be made to Acela service, but some trains on Northeast Regional and other services will be canceled or truncated
- LIRR and NJ Transit have not released their service plans during the Penn Station overhaul between July 10 and Sept. 1
Amtrak on Tuesday released its long-awaited summer service plan for an eight-week work project that will hamper travel in and out of New York, but make critical infrastructure upgrades at Penn Station, the nation’s busiest rail terminal.
Commuters are already dreading what Gov. Andrew Cuomo has predicted will be a "summer of hell," after a chaotic spring for NJ Transit and Long Island Rail Road riders.
An announcement is expected soon on how NJ Transit and LIRR will be affected. The two commuter lines carry hundreds of thousands people each weekday.
The modified schedule will last between July 10 and Sept. 1, with additional work lasting through June 2018, Amtrak said.
The renewal plan accelerates years of planned improvements to track, switch and other infrastructure at Penn Station, which has seen a number of derailments, power issues and other infrastructure problems in recent months.
Amtrak said no changes will be made this summer to the speedy Acela Express, its premium service on the heavily trafficked Northeast Corridor.
But service will be reduced between New York and Washington, D.C., and between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The Northeast Regional service will see three round trips, or six total trains, canceled each day between New York and Washington, D.C. Service between New York and Boston will operate normally.
Some trains will be truncated on the Keystone and Crescent services. Changes to the Empire service, which operates between Niagara Falls, Albany and New York, has not been announced, but reports have said those trains could be diverted from Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal.
Keystone service, which operates between Harrisburg, Philadelphia and New York, will see three of its round-trip trains, or six total trains, start and end in Philadelphia. One more round-trip train will start and end in Newark, New Jersey. Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg will operate as normal.
Crescent service, which operates between New York and New Orleans, will originate and terminate in Washington, D.C. daily during the work period. Connections will be provided on other Northeast Corridor trains, Amtrak said.
This summer’s work should help Penn Station handle an almost 3 million increase in passengers over the past 10 years. More than 10.4 million inter-city passengers travel through the station each year, and more than 450,000 commuters each day. More than 1,300 trains traverse the station's web of rails each day, Amtrak said.
The summer repairs are expected to close three of the station's 21 tracks at a time for the duration of the eight-week period.
Amtrak is the owner and operator of Penn Station. The agency announced the summer repair project in April after two derailments and other major service disruptions highlighted the station's aging infrastructure. The replacement of aging tracks and other equipment, much of which dates to the 1970s, initially was scheduled to be completed over a two- or three-year period, mainly on nights and weekends. But the recent problems prompted Amtrak to condense the process to include weekdays.
Both recent derailments, one on March 24 and another on April 3, occurred in the general area of Interlocking A, though they were unrelated and caused by different factors, Amtrak officials have said. The April derailment, caused by aging wooden cross-ties underneath the rails, knocked out eight of the station's 21 tracks for several days, causing extensive service disruptions.
Riders on NJ Transit's Morris & Essex Midtown Direct line are expected to be affected by the Penn Station summer work; they'll be diverted to Hoboken during the project, and from there, they'll be able to transfer for free to the PATH or the ferry, Gov. Christie said Tuesday. No other NJ Transit lines are expected to be affected.
Many LIRR riders are already expected to be diverted from Penn Station to either Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn or Hunters Point or Jamaica in Queens. Cuomo said Tuesday that the state will set up alternatives for LIRR commuters, including a high-speed ferry, park-and-ride sites along the Long Island Expressway where drivers can carpool and get free tolls, free buses from Nassau and Suffolk, and the addition of new HOV lanes.