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Penn Station Summer Of Misery Coming Into Focus With 8 Weeks Of Amtrak Service Changes

Dashed Arrow Sai Mokhtari / Gothamist

Penn Station commuters and east coast Amtrak riders know it's coming: weeks of emergency repairs that will likely turn the heavily-trafficked transit hub into a mess of delays and service changes for the better part of Summer 2017. But while Amtrak has been relatively forthcoming about the ground zero of repair work—that "tangle and mangle" of interlocking tracks under the station's western end—the full extent of the misery has been harder to parse. Are we talking six months? Longer? And, as Governor Andrew Cuomo has argued, can you really trust Amtrak to stick to its own timeline?

On Tuesday, Amtrak released its first "preliminary" repair schedule, focusing specifically on Amtrak service between New York City and points west and south. Service changes are scheduled to last from Monday July 10th through Friday September 1st—eight weeks, up from the previously reported six.

Acela Express service will not be impacted, though six Northeast Regional trains between New York City and Washington, D.C. will be canceled each day. Additionally:

Keystone Service:

Six trains will start and end in Philadelphia, and two more will start and end at Newark each day. Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg will operate at currently scheduled levels.

Long-Distance Service: The Crescent, between New York City and New Orleans, will originate and terminate in D.C., with connections north provided on other Northeast Corridor trains.

Changes to Empire Service, between NYC and Albany, Buffalo and Niagara Falls, have yet to be announced.

"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," said Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman in a statement.

Asked to comment on the decision to extend repairs to eight weeks, an Amtrak spokeswoman said that, "We are still working on final details which we will announce as soon as we are able to do so," adding, "I'm not aware of plans on extending schedule."

Amtrak owns Penn Station jointly with the federal government, leasing track space to the LIRR and NJT. The spokeswoman deferred to LIRR and NJ Transit for details on their specific schedules.

"We haven't announced details of the LIRR service plan yet but stay tuned for an announcement soon," said LIRR spokesman Aaron Donovan.

NJ Transit did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though the NY Times reports that all Morris & Essex trains will be diverted to Hoboken Terminal during repairs, where riders will switch to the PATH train or take a ferry over to Manhattan. Changes to other NJ Transit lines are expected early next month, according to the paper.

This summer's repair work is independent of other long-awaited, desperately needed Penn Station improvements, like the Gateway Program to dig a new tunnel under the Hudson River.

"This is basically replacement work," Michael DeCataldo, Vice President of Amtrak Operations East, told Gothamist last week. "Really no new technology is going in. It's just replacing something that's been in the ground for 20 or 25 years, if not longer."

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