Governors to Amtrak: Private operator sought at Penn Station

Xavier Trudeau
Mai 12, 2017

The March 24 derailment of an Acela train that sideswiped an NJ Transit commuter train was blamed on how two track pieces were connected, Scot Naparstek, Amtrak's chief operating officer, told a Joint Legislative Oversight Committee hearing in Trenton.

Charles "Wick" Moorman, president of Amtrak, which owns and operates Penn, provided more details on the agency's proposed summer track work, which he said will begin July 7 and last until September 5., the day after Labor Day.

Police reopened the station's closed entrances at 6:30 p.m., but delays continued on the region's major transit lines hours after agencies warned riders to steel themselves for another nightmarish commute. When Penn Station shuts down, disaster follows, as we've seen. "This is what we pay for, increased fares and less service". But news reports last week said a draft "New York Penn Station Project Work Plan" called for closing tracks at the nation's busiest rail hub for a total of 44 days in July and August, requiring schedule changes for the railroads that use the station.

Amtrak officials later said a preliminary schedule could run from July 7 though July 27, and from August 4 through 28.

Most recently, on Tuesday, a disabled Amtrak train at Penn Station and signal problems in the East River Tunnels caused delays during evening commutes. But the draft plan says both proposed shutdowns would cause "significant impacts" to train service, Newsday reported.

Commuters told stories of missing appointments and school events, but many said waiting in cramped conditions had become a part of commuting in a region plagued by high ridership and outdated infrastructure.

It comes following a series of transit problems at Penn Station, including two recent derailments. Amtrak plans to improve communications with riders. "It's like the running of the bulls", Solages said. They also want the right to approve any private contractor selected by Amtrak, which owns and operates Penn Station.

"To get a big change there, which is what everyone desires, you've got to bring these entities together and create a common platform for us to work in a more collaborative way", Amtrak Vice President Stephen Gardner said.

The two governors said states pay around $150 million a year to keep Penn Station in good fix.

"The burden was on Amtrak today to convince me that they should be in charge of Penn Station".

Riders are voicing their frustration. "This is not an inconvenience".

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