Am­trak praises ini­tial fixes

Agency exec praises rid­ers’ pa­tience at Penn Sta­tion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM -

NEW YORK — Am­trak’s chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer on Fri­day called the first week of sum­mer-long track work and of cor­re­spond­ing sched­ule cut­backs for com­muters at Penn Sta­tion a suc­cess.

Fri­day marked the fifth day of ma­jor re­pairs that are clos­ing tracks and forc­ing com­muter rail lines to re­duce sched­ules at the na­tion’s busiest train sta­tion, a crit­i­cal part of the North­east Cor­ri­dor sys­tem. The work is to go through the end of Au­gust, Am­trak Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Scot Na­parstek said.

“It’s been a very good week,” Na­parstek said dur­ing a con­fer­ence call with re­porters. “Peo­ple have re­sponded very, very well. At the sta­tion level and the pas­sen­ger level, we couldn’t have asked for any more.”

Gov. An­drew Cuomo, a Demo­crat, had pre­dicted a “sum­mer of hell” for com­muters af­ter plans for the re­pairs were an­nounced this spring. But on Tues­day he praised the ad­vance plan­ning and said “the re­ports are all good.”

Crews are re­plac­ing ag­ing equip­ment such as sig­nals and sev­eral thou­sand feet of track over a two-month pe­riod. Am­trak, which owns and op­er­ates the sta­tion, had been per­form­ing the work on nights and week­ends and planned to com­plete it in a few years, but two de­rail­ments and other prob­lems this spring per­suaded it to step up the pace.

Na­parstek said the work was even pro­ceed­ing a lit­tle ahead of sched­ule, though he stopped short of pre­dict­ing it could be fin­ished be­fore La­bor Day as pro­jected.

He said there were no other prob­lems such as over­head wire fail­ures in tun­nels dur­ing the week that could have caused de­lays and cau­tioned it’s un­re­al­is­tic to as­sume those won’t crop up dur­ing the sum­mer.

Na­parstek com­mended com­muters for their pa­tience and abil­ity to adapt to new sched­ules by tak­ing ear­lier or later trains or other forms of trans­porta­tion.

New Jersey Tran­sit and the Long Is­land Rail Road have given com­muters the op­tion to ride sub­ways, fer­ries or buses and have re­duced fares for those rid­ers whose lines are most af­fected.

The Port Au­thor­ity of New York and New Jersey said its PATH trains from Hobo­ken and Jersey City, N.J., crosshon­ored an av­er­age of about 23,000 New Jersey Tran­sit fares on the first four days. Some New Jersey Tran­sit rail lines are be­ing di­verted to Hobo­ken dur­ing morn­ing and af­ter­noon peak pe­ri­ods.

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