Thousands of Penn Station commuters will face three months of train delays this summer as Amtrak undertakes track repair work that will divert Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit trains.
Beginning on June 17th, NJ Transit will divert eight morning rush hour and six evening rush hour trains. The plan will affect trains on the Midtown Direct rail service on the Montclair-Boonton Line, the Morris & Essex Line and one North Jersey Coast Line train to Hoboken.
All told, about 5,000 weekday NJ Transit riders will be sent to a terminal in Hoboken, N.J., where they can transfer to ferries or the PATH to get to Manhattan. Transit officials are estimating that the changes will add roughly 20 or 30 minutes to average commute times, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Still, NJ Transit officials are downplaying the service changes, allaying any fears of a “summer of hell,” which Governor Andrew Cuomo predicted leading up to Amtrak's track work in 2017. The phrase went viral, but the governor turned out to be wrong. (Cuomo claimed in September that hell was "prevented by the preparation, communication, and execution of our mitigation plan.")
“The work needs to be done. We are cooperating with the Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak to minimize the impact,” Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit executive director told NJ.com.
Long Islanders will have their share of transit inconvenience starting on July 1st, when the LIRR will divert or cancel seven of 144 morning rush hour trains and seven of 130 evening rush trains. Five trains will be added around the peak commuting periods to provide alternatives to affected riders and some trains will be lengthened to add capacity.
Since the LIRR is currently operating without 10 rush hour trains at Penn Station due to track work on another project, passengers may be more accustomed to the changes. They will get a brief respite when services get fully restored on May 20th prior to the July 1st wind-down.
The service changes will run until September 6th. Amtrak, which owns Penn Station, is currently undertaking a $30 million track repair project. To date, the national rail company has spent $150 million renovating tracks at Penn Station following four train derailments in 2017. Roughly 200,000 rail commuters use the station each weekday.
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