A tough summer looms at Penn Station, where, according to Amtrak, three tracks at a time will be closed for major repairs. NY1 Transit Reporter Jose Martinez got an up-close look where the work will happen.
A pair of derailments, seemingly daily delays — and that's just the beginning at Penn Station, or "Pain Station," as AM New York called it on the cover of one paper.
"It will be a summer of hell for commuters," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
That's thanks to the emergency repairs on tap for the tight space beneath the country's busiest train station, which serves hundreds of thousands of riders on New Jersey Transit, the Long Island Railroad, and Amtrak.
"1,300 train movements in a 24-hour period just highlights how busy this complex, this facility is." Mike DeCataldo, Amtrak's vice president of operations.
Thursday, NY1 got a rare look at the "A Interlocking," a vital section of the station that is expected to be rebuilt this summer.
"The point of trying to highlight that to you is to get a sense of how complex "A Interlocking" really is," DeCataldo said. "It's a confined space. We operate a lot of trains through there."
It won't be easy for work crews or commuters, with extensive weekday track outages scheduled for weeks at a time in July and August.
Much of the work is planned to focus on "A Interlocking," a winding series of tracks and switches that route trains going to and from New Jersey, and to the Long Island Rail Road's West Side Yard.
"When you look out there, 'A Interlocking' is the key to this facility working because it allows train the dispatcher to move all those trains to very different tracks throughout the facility," DeCataldo explained.
Amtrak, which owns and operates Penn Station, has been criticized for maintenance problems at the sprawling transit hub.
Some politicians have called on the railroad to give up control of a station it has run for more than 40 years.
Amtrak officials said the work this summer goes well beyond a "Band-Aid" fix, and is much needed after decades of underinvestment and the increase of commuter use at Penn Station.
It's work that the railroad says needs to happen — and soon.
"What this switch renewal program will do for us and the new work will do, it will significantly increase the reliability that we have out here so that, potentially, some of the delays that we're seeing from track issues will be minimized and will produce a much, much better reliability for our riding customers," DeCataldo said.
Or so flustered commuters can hope.