[UPDATE BELOW] There's good news and there's bad news regarding Amtrak's plan to temporarily shutter a handful of lines under Penn Station, pitching thousands of commuters into the darkest corners of hell. The good news is, they've come up with a timetable of sorts, so there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The bad news is, you'll have to suffer through at least six weeks of service disruptions while Amtrak does the work—and that's not even counting the derailments and power outages that'll probably happen in the meantime.
Penn Station has been plagued with track-related problems over the last few months, triggering recurring delays and service disruptions that have rightfully riled commuters on NJ Transit and the Long Island Railroad. Amtrak, which owns and operates the 21 tracks under Penn Station, announced last month that the only solution was to undertake a massive infrastructure overhaul under the station, which would result in some lines shutting down and affecting weekday service.
Amtrak previously said officials were considering doing the work this summer, and today the Associated Press reports that Amtrak is planning to do track work between July 7th and July 25th, and again from August 4th to August 28th. The repair work will cause "significant service impacts," so, riders beware.
Still, while the planned service disruptions are frustrating, they're at least better than the surprise delays and derailments that commuters will continue to endure until the infrastructure is improved. The delays have been so bad, riders began circulating a #NoPayinMay campaign on social media, threatening to use their April passes this month instead of paying for new ones.
NJ Transit claimed this week that they were considering the request to grant commuters a free month, though it doesn't look like its happening. "In our history, decisions to waive fares and refund consideration go through a very thoughtful, deliberate and careful review," NJ Transit spokesperson Jim Smith told NBC New York.
Update 2:33 p.m.: The Times reports that New Jersey state senators Robert M. Gordon and Loretta Weinberg have voiced concern over the fact that Amtrak officials are not doing track work over July 4th and Labor Day weekends to minimize weekday interruptions.
“We are going to take a hard look at whether the full 19-day and 25-day rail service curtailments are absolutely necessary,” Gordon said. “But it also seems logical to ask why Amtrak wants to start shutting down tracks on July 7, rather than taking advantage of the four-day Fourth of July weekend to start the work."
Meanwhile, here's where the track work will be centered:
Here's a map of the 21 tracks at Penn Station. The repair work this summer will be focused in an area known as "A Interlocking" in pink. pic.twitter.com/uxjVrJD5zl
— Emma G. Fitzsimmons (@emmagf) May 2, 2017