• Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by electricron
I wonder if they'll be installing the switches at the same time they're reworking existing switches and tracks for the new North River tunnels? It would be shame to have to rework A interlocking all over again in just a few years.....
  by adamj023
The Penn Station South project is years away and will have seperate platforms. The tracks look to be seperate from the other lines.

I have been on NJ Transit and Amtrak and LIRR at Penn Station. These days it appears to be overcrowded and worse than ever in reliability.

Hopefully with Amtrak moving to the old post office, it becomes less crowded wnd more reliable ovee time.
  by ThirdRail7
adamj023 wrote:
bratkinson wrote:In two words: Deferred Maintenance.

There's always been bigger fish to fry when it comes to track and overhead maintenance in the NEC. Like any big corporation, and even state & local governments, if they 'save' some dollars doing less maintenance this year and usually divert the funds to other projects, management comes out looking good. Sometimes the maintenance dollars get spent for improvements that are more for public relations gains than actual train performance benefits. The unfortunate reality is there just isn't enough money to keep the NEC in good condition from WAS to BOS.

As anyone who 'survived' the Penn Central knows, too much deferred maintenance will come back and bite you big time! REALLY BIG time in the case of the PC! And now, Wick and crew have to face the music and shut down parts of NYP for lots and lots of repairs, affecting everyone that passes through.
No. Not deferred maintenance or diverting to other projects. The State or NY and NJ pay Amtrak for maintenance of Penn Station. This is well funded in advance. NJ is withholding payment to Amtrak and will be suing and I expect NY to follow as well. I commend Governor Christie on this issue. A tie maintenance project for Penn Station tracks would not been a long project. LiRR has done concrete ties and rail resurfacing or replacement projects as well as inspection. Apparently the Federal Railroad Authority has found numerous track defects as well.

The railroad tie which went bad was many years old and went through extremely bad weather conditions. It was known way in advance this would be disasterous. We are fortunate there was not an incident with mass casualties.

Amtrak does not need more funding, it already gets congressional subsidies. What we need is less comgressional subsidies and more dedication to the North East corridor which this was. We also need Amtrak to look for more creative ways to improve profit margins. The new Amtrak diner menus are a good start.

http://www.nj.com/traffic/index.ssf/201 ... _back.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

As the previous poster mentioned, NYP is over 100 years old and beyond capacity. Allow me to make a comparison.

If anyone is familiar with the 85 year old Pulaski Skyway in New Jersey, you know that trucks have been prohibited on it for almost 83 of those years. They credit the fact that trucks are banned to why this structurally deficient and obsolete bridge (which is being rebuilt) is still standing. Knowing this bridge is functionally obsolete and being used past its intended usage, no one would be crazy enough to to allow trucks to pummel the infrastructure, create more congestion and rob it of additional life expectancy.

In my (admittedly unscientific) opinion, this is what is happening in the NEC. The constant use and introduction of additional trains on to an outdated infrastructure is robbing years off the components.. Yet, there is an effort to put more stress on the system.

The thing that people leave out when they claim it's hard to find fault about NJT's funding is the simple fact that NJT continues to STUFF more trains into an outdated, archaic infrastructure. Then, they have to nerve to be surprised that things are going wrong.

Before the Midtown Direct service began, there were 239 movements over Portal bridge. The original count for the Midtown Directs pinned the number at 42. These days, there are over 100 Midtown Directs (including the deadheads that aren't in the public timetable.) As if that isn't bad enough, now they are stuffing the Raritan trains into the same area that is in trouble.

And everyone is surprised? If you had an old fuse box, and you keep plugging additional, energy consuming appliances into various outlets, what do you think is going to happen, particularly in the summer when energy consumption is at its peak? How much of a draw is placed on the catenary each time a NJT train starts and stops at a station? How much wear and tear is NJT putting on the contact (trolley) wires compared to Amtrak?

It is the very definition of insanity that NJT keeps pushing more trains into this extremely congested area and expects everything to be on point. The 100+ million dollars they pay is likely a drop in the bucket compared to what they use. Think of all of the interlockings(and their associated costs) that could go bye-bye if NJT didn't ram so many trains onto the NEC. Think of all of the tracks that could disappear.

NJT has stuffed the infrastructure to the point that their is no flexibility during peak times and increasingly, during off peak times. The easiest way to actually fix the issues on the NEC is to alleviate some of the strain. If some of the Midclowns were diverted back to Hoboken, and the Raritan Valley trains weren't using the old and strained catenary system, you'd have extra resources available.

Sure, you're running the Raritan trains off peak, but you are closing the window of opportunity to manipulate and straighten out your territory if (and by that I mean "when") something ultimately occurs. It may not sound like much, but four trains an hour can really impact things when there is a disruption or a scheduled outage. That train is hogging a track that could be used for something else. It take "x" amount of minutes for this additional train to clear if you want to reverse traffic. It is one more train that has to go by before maintenance can begin. It is one more train stopped at Portal. More importantly, it is one more train that wasn't previously attached to the catenary and is now trying to draw power to climb a 2% grade to get in one of the most congested terminals on the NEC.

What kills is me is you state that the various agencies pay for maintenance as if that is the end all, be all. Sure, they pay for it but as things age, maintenance becomes more expensive. Maintenance is no longer enough. As BlendedBrake mentioned, it is time for replacement and/or renewal. Maintenance and repair does not stop the aging process. You can replace all of the ties in the next year. That doesn't stop the insulators from continuing to age.

LIRR isn't exactly an angel in this process. They have added more trains and deadhead since they can no longer contain their fleet in West Side Yard. Their parent agency also wants to bring in Metro-North trains...without diverting trains to GCT via East Side Access. Where is the time for maintenance and more importantly, renewal and replacement? Indeed, LIRR demanded Amtrak NOT perform inspections that would interfere with their operations.

Who remembers this gem?

NEW YORK — Long Island Rail Road officials are asking Amtrak to review the way it handles track repairs after work forced the commuter line to cancel dozens of trains Monday, the Wall Street Journal has reported. LIRR uses Amtrak’s line from Penn Station to Queens, and work Amtrak calls “emergency repairs” led to the cancellations.

Amtrak said a maintenance crew found problems with a rail joint in a tunnel beneath the East River Monday afternoon. The timing was poor, as passengers were crowding trains to head home for Passover, a Jewish holiday. Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said it took workers time to get the necessary supplies and tools after finding the defect around 2 p.m. “In our estimation, we did what we needed to do to repair the joints,” he said.

LIRR called on Amtrak to do a “full review” of the incident. Officials there said Amtrak should schedule inspections so they don’t interfere with peak travel times. LIRR also said Amtrak should have staff “readily available” to do emergency repairs.
So, they want them to not find a broken rail, so a train can derail in the East River tunnel again? The message should have been "There was some inconvenience, but we're glad that the defect was corrected." Additionally, they want the inspections to run off peak (which 2pm is) which will limit the time repairs can be executed? As it is, repairs can only take replace between 10pm and things are supposed to be CLEARED by 5am. Realistically, you're only giving your crews 4-5 hours a night to get anything done. Funding is not enough if you can't spend the money. I have always thought that NYP is recipe for disaster. There needs to be balance between NYP, Newark, Hoboken, Path, Hunterspoint, Jamaica, the Subways and the Ferries. Spread out and create breathing room.

There is no doubt that Amtrak has deferred maintenance. It has a multi billion dollar backlog which shouldn''t surprise anyone. Most railroads have backlogs because maintenance also can mean replacement. It is typical for slow speed terminals and yards to receive the biggest deferral since they are slow speed areas. In NYP's case, add a relentless flow of traffic, funding problems and Amtrak's broke status to the mix. That is my main problem with Amtrak in this mess. From my perspective, Amtrak's main flaw is their failure to say ENOUGH. They should tell NJT to keep their money for the additional slots and say we can not handle any more trains into or out of Penn Station or across the high line. Easing the load will reduce the congestion and stress on the system.

But, we all know that is not going to happen.

This won't happen though. NJT will wave a few hundred dollars in Amtrak's face or finance an insulator in exchange for 19 more slots. Amtrak will take it and every one will wonder why trains are delayed.

  by ThirdRail7
adamj023 wrote:The MTA has done numerous East River tunnel projects already fixing rails, signals, power, etc for its subway. I believe there could be sections that have not been started yet however.

Lirr has also done work as well with its infrastructure.

Nj Transit has long term projects scheduled such as overhead power lines forcing outages

So where was Amtrak with Penn Station during this time? You would have expected that work would have been way underway by now but instead neglected the system.

Hopefully the system gets back to normal.

Thankfully one can use Subway to cross into Manhattan with redone tunnels avoiding the LIRR bottleneck and can use the Path train to go through the other tunnel if you are headed to NJ.

I kind of answered this in the Infrastructure thread, but it bears repeating. Just about all of the trains from the railroads you mentioned pass through and converge on Penn Station. The territories you mentioned don;t have the traffic of NYP. Reading some of your other posts leads me to believe you know very little about the actual station because no one would say that Harold is more complex than A.

In my previous post I also mentioned how inspections, maintenance and renewal are stymied by the operating profile of NYP. Amtrak has stated the need to take one East River Tunnel at a time out of service to execute repairs time for years. It hasn't occurred largely because no one wants to give up their trains. LURR doesn't want to decrease their service, NJT doesn't want to decrease their service and Amtrak really only has a few measures they can make(which they have been doing for the last two weeks.)

However, there is a silver lining to all of this mayhem. The can can no longer be kicked down the road. It has brought the conversation to the forefront. Now, the railroads will have to act. They are not dealing with an Amtrak political figure. They are dealing with a former for profit railroad CEO. He is putting the ball in everyone's court with minimal political speak. "We'll fix PENN and to do that, we neet time to gert the work done." It is now up to LIRR and NJT to adjust their schedules. Amtrak has already adjusted some of their operations (with more to come...did anyone notice the push-pull operations on the Albany trains?) which is why certain delays have eased. There is midday track work east and west of the station. Station tracks will finally get the attention they deserve. However, the current operating profile can not be maintained. If NJT and LIRR do not cut some of their trains to Penn, they will suffer major delays. PERIOD. If they balk about service cuts, they will show they are not willing to cooperate and things will only get worse.

I'm encouraged. I'm also throwing my (tiny) hat behind something I've mentioned for years. Summer is coming. This is the PERFECT time for the MTA and NJT to help the struggling ferry industry. They should throw their weight behind them ans help subsidize them. Indeed, a temporary ferry that operated during the last derailment was so popular, NY waterway will make in permanent. Give them more help. Send more of the MidClowns to Hoboken. Send some of the NEC trains their as well and return Hoboken to glory days. Terminate a few more LIRR trains at Hunterspoint and Atlantic terminal and let passengers use the ferries and subways. It has been suggested that Amtrak can send a few of the Albany trains back to GCT. If that is not allowable, continue the pull/pull operation which allows them to turn right in the station. I'd like to see some of the Keystones terminated at PHL instead of NYP. You'd need to make some of the regional trains longer. We can continue to long turn an acela couplet while short turning another in the station.

I'd like to see long turn solutions that create balance.
  by ThirdRail7
adamj023 wrote:The Penn Station South project is years away and will have seperate platforms. The tracks look to be seperate from the other lines.

I have been on NJ Transit and Amtrak and LIRR at Penn Station. These days it appears to be overcrowded and worse than ever in reliability.

Hopefully with Amtrak moving to the old post office, it becomes less crowded wnd more reliable ovee time.

This is what I mean. Dutchrailnut said it best. The Farley Building is a new tent over the same circus. Sure, the traffic flow will get better, which will alleviate crowding and may lead to less dwell time. However, you're still riding around on a 100+ year old, leaking roadbed. Even if you replace every switch, they are still going to be used to death. The insulators are still aging. The poles that support them are still getting close to 90 years old. By the time you finish all of the work on the switches and complete work on the poles, the switches will need replacing!
  by SwingMan
There is also a lot that goes into equipment manipulations and how equipment is made up that has to be properly addressed, as well as crew book assignments. Cancelling trains drastically alters where and when crews report to.
  by Allouette
Tower A covers an awful lot of switches and signals, even if it's now just a screen on the PSCC console instead of an actual tower with 141 levers controlling 124 signals, 15 double slip switches and 47 other switches. See http://rrsignalpix.com/tower_a_nyc.php for a fascinating historical sketch. Tower A includes the entire left half of the drawing, plus some additional switches and double slips in the two small yards on the left leading to the LIRR West Side yard (top) and Empire Connection (bottom), new since the drawing.
  by Gilbert B Norman
To follow up further on Mr. Third Rail's immediate thoughts, lest we forget that Penn, when opened during 1910, was for PRR Long Distance trains only. The Local Traffic all terminated X the River at Exchange Place.

On the Long Island, the East end of "civilization" was Nassau County. Suffolk? likely more livestock than people.

Nothing operated today by NJTransit went into Penn when opened; nothing beyond the PRR "Locals" went there until public operation of commuter service came on the table during the '60's.

While of course the East-West LD's are "gone" (whoops, sorry Lake Shore") as well as mail handling, the additional Corridor, NE and Empire, have more than offset.

Today, The Times reports on the inevitable; in order to make the needed infrastructure repairs, some tracks will have to be closed "24/7" indefinitely:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/27/nyre ... pairs.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Fair Use:
Amtrak officials confirmed on Thursday that they were planning to close several tracks at Pennsylvania Station in New York this summer for major repairs, but the railroad’s chief executive refused to say how many tracks would be closed or for how long.

The decision to close tracks during busy weekdays will disrupt the lives of thousands of commuters who rely on the station. But during an announcement about the railroad’s repair plans, Amtrak’s chief executive, Charles W. Moorman, repeatedly declined to provide a specific number of tracks that would be closed or to say how disruptive the work would be for commuters.

A federal official who had been briefed on the plans said Amtrak was trying to limit the number of closings to about three or four tracks at once. Amtrak officials want to avoid the chaos that ensued this month when they closed eight of the station’s 21 tracks after a derailment, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the railroad’s plans publicly.
Have fun; everyone.
  by bratkinson
Reading ThirdRails' post got me to thinking about what E Hunter Harrison did at CN and CP and now CSX...change the pricing structure to increase traffic on Saturday and Sunday...non-peak days.

Translate this to Penn Station...offer the commuter agencies reduced 'service costs' if they effectively 'spread out' the rush hour. Take a commuter from NJ that usually gets on a train at 7:30 AM and gets to NYP at 8:30. If NJT were to offer a passenger discount of, say 10-15% for taking the inbound train at 5:30 instead, I'm sure there'd be takers. Untimately remove a couple of rush hour trains from the peak times and add some earlier.

Do the same thing in the reverse as well. Lower the ticket costs after 7:00 PM. That would help ease the 'crush load' times at NYP, and would allow a couple of tracks to be out of service for a few weeks/months at a time.

Similarly, Amtrak and LIRR would have to do the same.

Once they start closing a couple of tracks for a while, the choice is simple. 'Force' as many peak-time passengers to schedule different times to/from/through NYP, or everyone should expect a 1-2 hour delay on most trains in or out!
  by Nasadowsk
ThirdRail7 wrote: This is what I mean. Dutchrailnut said it best. The Farley Building is a new tent over the same circus.
Maybe it's time NYC, the feds, and everyone else come bite the bullet and do what's pretty obvious at this point: Replace/rebuild Penn Station from the ground up. Redo the track layout for modern patterns, redo the passenger level for modern traffic flows, etc.

Everyone's so hopeful about Gateway, but it just dumps into the existing Penn, which can't handle the human traffic, and barely can handle the train traffic.
  by JamesRR
Noel Weaver wrote:A Tower is by far the most complex interlocking in the Penn Station complex which includes Harold and all of Sunnyside Yard as well. I know as I was qualified through all of this territory and ran it for a long time. Fixing the problems and there are plenty of problems to fix will take time as well as a lot of money. The best way out of this mess as I see it is to remove two tracks at a time and do everything that needs to be done to restore them to first class condition. After that take two more tracks out and do the same. What about capacity during this necessary work? Have New Jersey Transit move their Midtown Direct trains to Hoboken while this work is taking place and maybe a few NEC or North Jersey Coast trains as well if necessary. They might have to do something to accomodate Empire Service trains which are limited to tracks 5 to 9 includive for some of this work as well, maybe terminate them at Croton Harmon, run a engine on each end and have Metro-North take them to Grand Central Terminal, this is not an ideal solution but it would work. As for the Long Island Rail Road they could terminate some of their trains at Hunters Point and it is only a very short walk to the Number 7 subway train and two stops to Grand Central Terminal, again not an ideal solution but it could be made to work for at least a limited period. There are no ideal solutions to the problems here and no matter what they do a good number of passengers will be affected. A disruption is far better for necessary track work within the schedule than an unscheduled disruption for a derailment or breakdown that is not scheduled and has to be dealt with on the spot. Do nothing is really not an option, do something now or it will definitely get worse, it is only a matter of time. Meantime put in some speed restrictions in place on the station tracks and most important on the ladders before it gets worse which it will. Get some railroad people back running these railroads would help a lot too.
Noel Weaver

PS Harold is not an Amtrak Tower but is a Long Island Rail Road Tower, owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road.
This is a great insight into what's involved - and also you propose some really interesting detour solutions (NEC going to Hoboken is smart if they can afford the space there).

As a slight aside - does anything at GCT come close to the complexity of A Interlocking?
  by Backshophoss
When Amtrak started the tunnel box construction as a way to maintain access for the two new tunnels,LIRR had to give up the
running repair shop at West Side Yard for construction access. That added more Deadhead moves back east to the yards at Jamaica
and the Hillside shop yard.
Now add to that that NY Penn is at the point of overload,leftover damage from Sandy has surfaced,and the ESA project has continued
longer than what was planned. After the FRA wandered around and found more "defects",that's what forced Amtrak's hand to "push"
the rehab project to the front of the line,and possibly pull a track gang off an other project that needs to be done.
This is being done under the heavy traffic load and in a confined space. Everybody will have to share the "pain" and delays created
by this rehab,most of the work is done by hand,there's no room for (or venting of) a long string of track machines.
It's going to be a long summer at track level in NY Penn. :wink:
  by Backshophoss
The old towers "A" (upper level) and "B"(lower level) in GCT come close to Tower A at NY Penn.
Throw in tower "U" where the upper and lower levels split at GCT as well

How far along is the tunnel box? IT would help if West Side Yard is getting it's running repair shop back,could cut down some of the
LIRR deadhead moves back east.
  by Tadman
adamj023 wrote:
Penn Station is not complex at all. It is a standard multitrack station.
This is misleading to say the least. There are three different lines converging, through a few old tunnels, on on the busiest station in the country. I don't know how that isn't complex. A standard multi-track station would be something like Boston North or Ogilvie in Chicago.
  by STrRedWolf
ThirdRail7 wrote:It is now up to LIRR and NJT to adjust their schedules. Amtrak has already adjusted some of their operations (with more to come...did anyone notice the push-pull operations on the Albany trains?) which is why certain delays have eased. There is midday track work east and west of the station. Station tracks will finally get the attention they deserve. However, the current operating profile can not be maintained. If NJT and LIRR do not cut some of their trains to Penn, they will suffer major delays. PERIOD. If they balk about service cuts, they will show they are not willing to cooperate and things will only get worse.
I'm thinking LIRR's response is East Side Access at GCT. They'll move a good chunk of Penn traffic up there once it's done and in service, and keep some token service at Penn. Then after the work at Penn is done they can rebalance, where Penn traffic goes for stuff Penn south, while GCT is for GCT north.
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