NEW YORK (AP) — Amtrak detailed summertime service changes and cutbacks to allow it to perform extensive repairs at Penn Station, an announcement that coincided with yet another morning when commuters suffered delays caused by balky infrastructure.
Those commuters won’t be directly affected by Tuesday’s announcement. The Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, two commuter lines that carry hundreds of thousands of people daily, have been in negotiations with Amtrak but have yet to announce their service changes for the summer.
Amtrak owns and operates Penn Station, which is the nation’s busiest rail station, and surrounding tracks and equipment.
The summer repairs are expected to close three of the station’s 21 tracks at a time for approximately seven weeks, beginning in July. The work was ordered after two recent derailments and numerous other delays.
Among the changes Amtrak announced Tuesday were reductions in service between New York and Washington, D.C., on its Northeast Regional line and between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on its Keystone service. The Crescent, which runs daily between New York and New Orleans, will instead run between Washington, D.C., and New Orleans.
The cutbacks take effect July 10 and last through Sept. 1.
The railroad’s premium Acela service will be unchanged, as will all service between New York and Boston.
Amtrak didn’t say how its Empire Service between Albany and New York City would be affected. Reports have said those trains could be diverted from Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal.
The Penn Station project is separate from a massive plan to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River connecting New York and New Jersey to replace an existing 110-year-old tunnel that is a source of regular delays due to overhead wire problems.
The states have agreed to split half of the cost of the Gateway project, and Democratic then-President Barack Obama’s administration had pledged to fund the other half. However, the budget proposed by Republican President Donald Trump last week would cut the funding program the project was set to use.
New Jersey’s Democratic U.S. senators, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, and a bipartisan group of congressmen sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Tuesday urging her to continue the program to fund Gateway.
Earlier Tuesday, a power problem left two Long Island Rail Road trains stranded in an East River tunnel for more than an hour, resulting in morning rush hour delays.
It was the latest in a litany of woes for LIRR and NJ Transit commuters who use Penn Station. Besides the derailments, one of which shut down eight tracks over a span of four days, disabled trains, electrical problems and other issues have seemingly become the norm.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the outage involved an electrified third rail maintained by Amtrak, which said it was working to pinpoint the cause.
LIRR conductors handed out water as passengers aired their ire over the MTA and Amtrak on Twitter.
“They always blame each other, but we have to suffer,” said Faisal Mohammed, who had to stand in a packed train for three hours on what should have been a half-hour commute from Lynbrook.
Paul Liggieri, a lawyer who works in Manhattan, was delayed for about 30 minutes.
“Today just felt like that old ’70s movie where everybody gets mad as hell and decides they can’t take it anymore,” he said.
Amtrak schedule changes: http://bit.ly/2rBVoGs
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