Amtrak Chief Operating Officer Scot Naparstek told reporters on Friday that emergency repair work at Penn Station is proceeding without incident at the one-week mark, despite Governor Andrew Cuomo's vocal skepticism.
"We are at, to a little bit ahead of, schedule at this point," Naparstek said.
Below is time lapse footage of the week's work, which involved completely replacing two switches in the so-called A interlocking, a wide track configuration that allows train dispatchers to route trains entering the station from New Jersey and Washington. Two other switches have been dismantled and are in the process of being replaced. Crews have also begun work on a switch in the area where an NJ Transit derailed last Friday.
"To date we are seeing very few issues with trains running on time. Trains have run well over 90 percent on time since Monday," Naparstek added.
Responses from riders have also been generally positive, with few issues beyond crowding on trains and some of the subway lines where LIRR riders have been diverted.
MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said during a seperate press conference Friday that he is "cautiously optimistic." Despite alternative ferry and bus service, the railroad was "still far and above the most popular option," he said. "These trends are in line with our expectations."
Rider traffic through Penn Station was down eight percent over last week, according to the MTA, with many riders choosing alternative routes through Atlantic Terminal and Hunter's Point in Queens. The evening rush was down one percent. Lhota acknowledged that shuttle buses have been underutilized. Ferries from Glen Cove were between 35 and 40 percent full in the mornings, outdoing Hunters Point ferries.
"Those coming into Hunters Point [on the LIRR] much prefer to go on the 7 train than get on the ferry," Lhota said.
It is too early to speculate about completing repairs ahead of schedule, according to Amtrak.
"I don't sit here and anticipate that it is going to run smoothly at every moment," Naparstek said, of the coming weeks. "I can't say that we'll ever be perfect. We can't anticipate every contingency."