New York Penn Station fall update: a disappearing information booth and platform upgrades

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NEW YORK CITY — New York Penn Station changes this autumn will largely be above track level. In a media call on Tuesday, Amtrak’s Chief Operating Officer Scot Naparstek and Janet Campbell-Lorenc, senior director of the Northeast Corridor Service Line, reviewed changes that were made over the summer, and what will be happening this fall.

For Empire Service, the three-month cessation of service on the Empire Connection saw two primary improvements: a post-Sandy remediation of the connecting tunnel at Penn Station in concert with electrical and mechanical work on the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge. The 10-mile stretch between the two received 80,000 feet of welded rail replacement, along with tie replacement and environmental clean-up. All Empire Service trains are running to and from Penn Station.

A newly revitalized track 19, used by the Long Island Rail Road, was placed into service on July 23, with new ballast, new track and three new turnouts.

Naparstek and Campbell-Lorenc also reviewed an improvement schedule for the next three months, which will add construction noises to the usual concourse level din for travelers, but few train delays.

JO Tower trackage and crossovers, just east of tracks 11 and 12 will be worked on weekends between Sept. 21 and Dec. 17. In a prelude to the Moynihan Station opening, platforms 3 to 8, encompassing tracks 5 to 16 will be worked on to ensure better passenger circulation and information during the fall, with platforms 1, 2, 9, 10, and 11 to be worked on later, which will cover all 21 tracks in Penn Station. Above, autumnal changes will see the stand-alone Seventh Avenue Rotunda information booth torn down. That function will exist in a revised ticketed waiting area. A long-unused entrance will re-open to the Rotunda as well as the train gate side. Another fall project will be a revitalized Club Acela, enlarged and modernized. The club will be closed during the reconstruction, with some of the functions available at the ticketed waiting room during this time.

Year-end promises to be interesting, as a 5-year plan for the Penn Station Complex nudges closer to implementation. Naparstek noted that a high-level plan has been drafted and submitted to partners for review and revision, and should be confirmed by all in the near-term. Once approved, the future of the Penn Station Renewal will be fully-defined.

Lastly, Campbell-Lorenc was asked if the 75 diesel locomotives that will be ordered by the end of the year will be dual-powered for Empire Service. She said that they will not be.
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