Amtrak announced preliminary schedule changes in efforts to speed up the infrastructure renewal at New York Penn Station.
Amtrak says changes include "a series of major track and switch renewal projects that will strengthen railroad infrastructure, operations and preparedness and, ultimately improve reliability at America's busiest rail hub."
"Amtrak is accelerating its work to improve conditions and reliability of the tracks at Penn Station during the summer," said Amtrak President & CEO Wick Moorman. "While we regret that this work requires some reduction in train service and disruption to passengers over the summer months, we believe it will ultimately be worth the investment in terms of increased reliability of passenger rail travel. In addition, while Amtrak's own service at Penn Station will face the largest impact of the three railroads in terms of proportional reductions in train service during the work period, we will use all the tools we can, such as lengthening trains, to continue to provide capacity for our intercity travelers going to or from New York."
The infrastructure renewal work will accelerate several years of already planned improvement of track, switch and other infrastructure at Penn Station to improve track conditions. The major work will require Amtrak and its partners to operate on a modified schedule from July 10 – Sept. 1, 2017. The work during this summer period will occur in "A Interlocking," which serves as the critical sorting mechanism routing incoming and outgoing trains that enter and exit Penn Station from the Hudson River tunnel and the LIRR's West Side Yard to the various station tracks and platforms. The work in A Interlocking includes total track and switch replacement.
Additional work will last through approximately June 2018, with most of it taking place on weekends, resulting in minimal impacts to service.
While the plan is designed to renew overused and aging infrastructure, overall improvement in reliability of Penn Station will require a commitment from all of the users of Penn Station, the administration and Congress to provide investment in the Northeast Corridor and to fund the Gateway Program's Hudson Tunnel project and the expansion of Penn Station.
The renewal work is designed to address the reliability issues caused by the significant growth in train volumes at New York Penn Station coupled with its aging infrastructure.