• 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 BenH
Happy to see that the New York Times has been all over this story --

"Amtrak Said to Weigh Extended Track Closings for Penn Station Repairs"
https://nyti.ms/2piKLXk | April 25, 2017

From the article (Fair use quotes):
"Officials at Amtrak, which owns and operates Penn Station, say the infrastructure at the terminal has become so brittle that it urgently needs an overhaul."

"Since the Federal Railroad Administration found track defects at Penn Station this month, Amtrak has imposed a 10-mile-per-hour speed restriction for the entire station, down from 15 m.p.h., until Amtrak finishes track inspections and repairs, said Marc Willis, a spokesman for the railroad administration.
  by Tadman
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;
If you ask the question, then flat-out disagree with the well-known answer, what do you expect?

This is not rocket science. The agencies are chronically underfunded and the station is run over the capacity it was designed for. Many components of the station are well past their design life.

The comparison to Springfield is not a real comparison. How many trains a day do they see, 6? 10? In an open-air station at a small town. Compare this with 200+ trains per day in a tunnel under the country's largest city.
  by adamj023
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.
  by NaugyRR
As others have said, I don't believe Amtrak should take the fall on this one. Penn Station has to push eastbound trains through four tunnels, westbound trains through only two, plus Empire trains through the dog-leg, and LIRR trains in-and-out the ramp to Westside Yard. You have trains from Amtrak's busiest section of railroad trying to push and shove through traffic belonging to two of the nation's busiest commuter railroads. The underground confines are tight, the tunnels are old and tired, the track work is dizzying in complexity, and crews must work safely around two dangerous power sources... Whether they work on it now or announced plans to do the work, people would still have a fuss, despite Amtrak saying for years now that they need to have funds sourced to do something with the tunnels and Penn, because exactly this kind of thing would start happening on a regular basis. This is a situation where people were going to be angry at Amtrak whether they asked for permission or begged for forgiveness. Hopefully this will be a wake-up call to everyone that just maybe there's better infrastructure to invest in than walls and pipelines.
  by electricron
Penn Station track work is so bad because Amtrak hasn't invested as much as it should maintaining it. By not spending the funds needed to keep it in a state of good repair, it helps create the falsehood that the NEC turns a profit.
  by BlendedBreak
All the interlocking's need to be redone.
*Not just new switches and switch machines but wiring and cabling to PSCC.
*weather-proofing of new wiring and cabling.

Tracks need to be reconfigured.
*Cement foundation for track bed instead of rock ballast.

Signalling and circuitry redone.
*cab signalling for better flow control.
*repositioned wayside signals.

Tunnel and enclosed area lighting re-work.

As stated, capacity will not allow for most work to complete or even begin.
In order to begin upgrade modification, the post office platform will need to be put in service to turn NJT equipment, Empire-Service will have to return to GCT for a time, Amtrak catering will have to fully move to Sunnyside(delays on both arrivals and departures), and long distance and terminating trains will have to be shuttled to Sunnyside quickly(baggage work and catering delays). Also, rescue/protect motors will have to be repositioned to either Sunnyside or Secaucus JCT.
  by John_Perkowski
From NJ.com

Brief, fair use extract (not a direct quote):
The work includes:
Infrastructure renewal: Major track and switch renewal in the west part of the station will begin this summer.

Managing passenger concourses: Former Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO and Chairman Tom Prendergast will be hired to review everything on passenger concourses...

Amtrak is developing a joint concourse operations center to handle the "level where the people are," Moorman said.

Amtrak will also form a security and safety task force in the next few weeks to review protocols and processes with NJ Transit, the LIRR, law enforcement and first responders.
  by adamj023
As long as Amtrak has scheduled fixes to fix the imfrastructure. All the issues to date have been relatively minor maintenance issues. They should just schedule shutdowns of a few tracks at a time with a buffer zone to prevent fouling of tracks. Penn Station combined with the tunnels is not a large project. We aren't talking thousands of mile of rail and Amtrak is fully funded to fix the infrastructure problems.

Penn Station is not complex at all. It is a standard multitrack station. The only issue is an inconvenience to passengers when you shut down multiple tracks at a time. Because of a lack of maintenance on the ties, they caused complicated issues with equipment that required more complex work.

Amtrak, LIRR and NJTransit could run dedicated shuttle trains from Penn Station to nearby stations which would increase traffic, force additional delays and transfers but allow them to fix Penn Station relatively quickly. I think the issues will get resolved rather quickly now as Amtrak seems to be heading in the right direction.

From Amtrak's own blog it looks like the project will last till June 2018. At least they finally gave a date like they have with other projects.
Last edited by adamj023 on Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by JamesRR
adamj023 wrote:
Penn Station is not complex at all. It is a standard multitrack station.
Sorry - but I disagree. Penn Station is VERY complex. And it's anything but a standard multitrack station. Every track is used during peak periods, and if one switch is taken out it usually affects more than one track. Considering the station's operating at 150% of its designed capacity, orchestrating upgrades is a complicated affair.
  by adamj023
JamesRR wrote:
adamj023 wrote:
Penn Station is not complex at all. (snip)
Penn Station is VERY complex. (snip)
Amtrak is replacing interlocking A by the fall so that is very good news.

Amtrak's Penn Station is not as complex as Harold interlocking but interlocking A at penn station is being replaced as announced by Amtrak. Looks like we finally got the June 2018 for completion of the work at Penn Station.
Last edited by John_Perkowski on Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Brevity
  by ExCon90
A lot of the complexity at HAROLD involves separation of traffic flows by flyovers and "underjumps," whereas there are constant, unavoidable conflicts in "A" interlocking.
  by Noel Weaver
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.
  by east point
Is this is what we call "Boardman's revenge "? Remember the last few years the September monthly reports showed Amtrak underspent it capital budget. Was NYPS a major victim of underspending the Capital budget ?
  by R36 Combine Coach
The bottom line is the North River Tubes and Penn Station's infrastructure date back to when the Cubs "last" won it (until recently): 1908. [Finishing touches were done in 1909-10]
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