Amtrak completes Penn Station work

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Amtrak Chief Engineer Gery Williams addresses the media, as railroad Chief Operating Officer Scott Naparstek checks his notes, surrounded by some of the engineering staff who worked on the Penn Station project.
Ralph Spielman
NEW YORK — New York commuters’ “summer of hell” is over now in time for a long, holiday weekend. Scott Naparstek, Amtrak’s chief operating officer and Gery Williams, Amtrak’s chief engineer led a half-hour media briefing Thursday to talk about the last eight weeks of construction at Penn Station that led to track closurers, train delays, and the devilish media monicker.

The officials were surrounded by a cadre of the more than 350 Amtrak engineering employees involved with the eight-week project. Both Naparstek and Williams spoke amidst the noise of travelers rushing to and from trains.

The most tangible results of the two-month program were the complete replacement of Track 10, four diamonds near Tower A completely replaced, and additional track repairs to ensure a uniform terminal speed of 15 miles per hour, as it had been prior to the reconstruction. During the reconstruction, that speed had been reduced to 10 mph.

The schedule for all Penn Station Amtrak trains will be restored Sept. 5, notably the Southern Crescent which will return to Penn Station after calling Washington Union Station home since July 10. Empire Service trains will end their three round-trips to Grand Central Terminal as well, as those trains return to Penn Station.

Naparstek went on to thank New York’s transportation department, Metro-North, NJ Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, as well as passengers, for their patience.

One of the lessons learned, Naparstek says, was by having all the materials on hand for the project, either in or near Penn Station, meant there were no critical delays waiting for all the pieces of infrastructure that were needed. Also, some work which was not planned on Track 15, a joint Amtrak-Long Island Rail Road track was able to be done by virtue of no excessive delays on the other parts of the project.

This fall, 55-hour weekend windows will ensure that other parts of Penn Station track work and infrastructure will be looked at by inspectors and repaired over weekends through Spring 2018. Above track level, restrooms at Penn Station will start to be refurbished around the beginning of October, along with the ticketing area. The schedule reliability at Penn Station will be improved as well, although officials say that given the volume of train movements in and out, it would never be 100 percent.

Officials said that all the work to be done through the early part of 2018 has been completely funded.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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