Wick Moorman, Amtrak president and CEO, has announced a series of initiatives to strengthen railroad infrastructure and improve operations and preparedness at New York Penn Station.
Moorman, who became Amtrak CEO in September 2016, said, “After only a short time here at Amtrak it has become apparent to me that we need to accelerate major renewal work in New York Penn Station. Using our limited resources, we have made this renewal project a priority to ensure the continuity of travel in the region. Without these improvements, Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT and the Long Island Rail Road could continue to see major disruptions, which could also have an impact on passenger safety.”
“We at Amtrak understand the steps that must be taken to ensure a safe and reliable railway and will be working throughout the summer and beyond to make the required improvements,” added Moorman. “We will be collaborating with our partners at NJT and the LIRR to plan this work in order to minimize disruptions and inconvenience for our customers who rely on us for service.”
The initiatives include a New York Penn Station Infrastructure Renewal Program in which Amtrak will work on a series of major track and switch renewal projects, beginning with the western portion of the station area. The first set of projects will occur at “A Interlocking,” which serves as the sorting mechanism routing trains that enter Penn Station. Amtrak plans to advance this work beginning in May and continuing through the fall. Further renewal work of various station tracks will be undertaken through approximately June 2018.
Amtrak has also commissioned former Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) CEO and Chairman Tom Prendergast to independently review the interaction, coordination and collaboration between the railroads’ various passenger concourses within Penn Station. The review will focus on the current methods of managing daily operations within the station concourses and will look for opportunities to strengthen coordination. Amtrak is also proposing that the three railroads serving Penn Station develop a joint station concourse operations center to strengthen coordination.
Additionally, Amtrak will assemble a task force with its partner railroads, first responders, law enforcement and other stakeholders to review protocols relating to disabled trains and ensure that adequate procedures are documented, trained and exercised.
“The simple fact of the matter is that some of the track and infrastructure in service today at Penn Station was built in the 1970s at a time when we were handling half the trains and a third of the customers that we do today,” Moorman stated. “While a substantial amount of reconstruction has already been done at New York Penn Station, the remaining renewal work has been scheduled to take place over the next several years in order to minimize impacts on scheduled services. We can’t wait that long. This work needs to be done now.”