Switching trains in Penn Station

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Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby mr. mick » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:05 am

My daughter and her husband are visiting for Christmas; coming from Roanoke to Boston. The few previous train trips coming to Boston in the past were always direct, but on Saturday, they switch trains at Penn Station (156 to 168) around 7:00 PM. They are concerned that they won't be able to find 168, they won't have enough time and will miss the train to Boston, how do they find there way around, etc., etc. Can anyone suggest any tips or information that I can convey to them to ease their concern? I have never been to Penn Station, so I am unfamiliar with the layout and the process, unfortunately.
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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby andegold » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:20 am

The easiest way for them not to get lost is to make sure they stay towards the middle or rear of the train. If they accidentally go up towards the front of the train (east end) they could end up in the NJT or LIRR concourse and then they will get confused and could have difficulty finding their next train. They want to look for escalators, not stairs, going up near the middle of the train. That will get them to the main 8th Avenue concourse where it will be very easy to find their next train. If they accidentally go up the stairs furthest to the rear (west end) they will end up in the new concourse under the post office. Clean and well lit with easy access to all Amtrak platforms to Boston but I don't think there are any Amtrak information boards there.

If they end up in a "hallway" rather than a large concourse tell them to look for another stairway or escalator to go up another level.

Finally, the surest way to do it is to look for a redcap on the platform but that could be difficult in the crowds and confusion.
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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby Railjunkie » Tue Dec 18, 2018 9:58 am

Long escalator will bring them to the main concourse. AVOID THE SHORT STAIRS, ESCALATOR AND ELEVATORS. Two other options are tell the conductor they would like a Red Cap to meet them on the platform or see if the can get the conductor to call ahead to see were their next train is. This last suggestion is only if the train is late and they have a really tight connection.
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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby mohawkrailfan » Tue Dec 18, 2018 11:05 am

If you're in a non-Amtrak concourse, you can usually find an arrow labeled "Amtrak" and follow that to the Amtrak concourse.
Make a little noise at the flag location.
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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby jamesinclair » Tue Dec 18, 2018 12:03 pm

I would recommend as they pass Newark to visit NJTransit.com on their phones, click DepartureVision, and then NY Penn (might be under Penn Station New York). Amtrak trains are shown with the correct track if it has been announced.
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Re: Changing Trains at Penn Station-New York

Postby MACTRAXX » Tue Dec 18, 2018 12:32 pm

Mick (and Everyone:)

The most accurate description of your intentions is "Changing Trains at Penn Station-New York"
and should be the title of this topic. I first thought the subject was about switching operations
at NYP and what is used to move equipment around in the station.

Tell your daughter and husband to inform the Conductor on #156 (or AC or Trainman as they
collect their tickets on board) that they are going to be transferring (another good term to more
accurately describe this subject) to Train #168 to Boston at Penn Station-New York. As RJ noted
they may be able to inform them which track that train will be boarding on. The best case could
be if they are lucky enough that their arrival is across the same platform as the departing train.
meaning no need to go upstairs into the Amtrak departure area (main waiting room) at NYP.

With a substantial layover time they should go up into the main waiting room/departure area
at NYP to board #168 north to Boston. Again this depends on the performance of both trains.

Since #168 basically follows #156 NYP boarding track information may not be available to the
crew on #156 depending on how long the layover will be (1 hour 15 minutes: 5:45 to 7:00PM)
if both trains are on time.

Some other thoughts concerning a possible Washington transfer:

From looking at the schedules for both trains #156 has a 44 minute layover at Washington Union
Station (1:36 to 2:20PM) and #168 starts at WAS 1' 5" later (3:25PM). Transferring at WAS may
have been a better option provided that #156 runs at least close to schedule. Was the transfer at
NYP their choice or what was offered (#168 may have been sold out or have had limited space
between WAS-NYP) to them by their booking Amtrak agent?

One final note: If #156 runs late into WAS and a connection with #168 looks to be in possible
jeopardy (within 45 or so minutes or less of #168's 3:25 PM departure time) check again with
the train crew to see if the transfer could be made at WAS. This may be the difference that
insures that the connection between the two trains is made.

Hopefully this information helps and does not complicate matters any more then they should be.
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Last edited by MACTRAXX on Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:45 pm

One possibility would be to get off 156 at Newark at 5.27 and catch 168 there at 6.28 (I shouldn't think there would be any complications ticketwise). It might make for a rather boring wait, but it's a virtual certainty that both trains will use the same track (Track 1) at Newark, and in any case there will be information available, and plenty of time to get under and across to Track 2 if necessary. At New York Penn there's no knowing in advance which tracks may be involved. Also, by getting on at Newark they'll have first crack at getting seats together when 168 pulls into New York and people are getting ready to detrain.
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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby andegold » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:24 pm

jamesinclair wrote:I would recommend as they pass Newark to visit NJTransit.com on their phones, click DepartureVision, and then NY Penn (might be under Penn Station New York). Amtrak trains are shown with the correct track if it has been announced.


Departurevision only shows NJT trains and Amtrak trains heading West, including some Empire Service trains. Trains going East are not shown.
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Re: Changing Trains at Penn Station-New York

Postby MACTRAXX » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:36 pm

EC90 (and Everyone:)

Interesting added option about changing trains at Newark - something that I am aware of. There is
only basically two tracks that eastbound trains run through at NWK: Tracks 1 or 2.

I would only attempt a NWK transfer if the connection between Trains #156 or #168 was again in
jeopardy and the wait between trains was minimal (example 20 minutes or less) again informing
the train crew on #156 of your intentions. By boarding #168 at NWK you would have the added
option of decent seat selection upon arrival at NYP before new passengers board there.

I now feel after looking at both train's schedules - that this transfer should have been made in
Washington which could have the added option of boarding #168 at its originating point - then
being able to settle in for what is about an eight-hour ride to Boston instead of having to deal
with the hassle of being forced to transfer at NYP.

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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:37 pm

I haven't been in Newark for a while -- what do they display on the platforms for eastbound trains on Tracks 1 and 2?
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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby andegold » Wed Dec 19, 2018 8:53 am

ExCon90 wrote:I haven't been in Newark for a while -- what do they display on the platforms for eastbound trains on Tracks 1 and 2?


I must have missed where you said to check DepartureVision at Newark. I just checked and that screen will show Boston trains and I do agree with the suggestion that Newark is an easier transfer point.
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Re: Changing Trains at Penn Station-New York

Postby MACTRAXX » Wed Dec 19, 2018 10:07 am

Everyone:

I agree that changing at Newark will be easier than Penn Station-New York can be. For us here at
this Forum who know and understand the rail system no problem but for those unfamiliar it can be
quite different...

I want to relate a memory of a NJT local train ride I took from Trenton one evening a few years ago.
The train was very busy and in the course of that ride two young men sat next to me. I soon found
out that they were going to NYP to catch an Amtrak train to Boston. I discovered after looking at a
NEC schedule that they were cutting it very close - enough for me to suggest getting off at Newark
and getting on their train coming from WAS. What ended up happening was during the EWR stop I
noted that their train was signed for arrival across the platform - and arrived almost right after we
stopped. I suggested that they get off the NJT train and board their Amtrak train right there - and
to explain to the train crew that they had NYP-BOS tickets hopefully not having to pay extra fare.
The car I was in stopped away from a large group waiting to board at EWR making it easy for them
to get off NJT and make a fast transfer at Newark Airport Station to Amtrak...a lucky break there.

A transfer like this can and does work - avoiding confusing places such as Penn Station-New York.
But - again I would do this only if it is absolutely necessary. In the case I note here it was...

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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:19 pm

A later thought occurred to me that Philadelphia 30th St. would be a good place, since both trains will be using either Track 3 or 4, both on the same platform. Probably wouldn't work this time without reticketing complications that don't bear thinking about.
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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby STrRedWolf » Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:30 pm

ExCon90 wrote:A later thought occurred to me that Philadelphia 30th St. would be a good place, since both trains will be using either Track 3 or 4, both on the same platform. Probably wouldn't work this time without reticketing complications that don't bear thinking about.


Not quite... but it would be easier to locate the right track and 30th Street isn't crowded as NYP is. I think you would still be going up the escalators to the main hall.
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Re: Switching trains in Penn Station

Postby Greg Moore » Wed Dec 19, 2018 11:44 pm

Honestly, I think any suggestions to switch the train earlier, unless you reticket, is problematic. Besides the fact that conductor may not be happy, your transfer is really only guaranteed at Penn Station.

Look, Penn Station can be big and ugly and scary, but people change trains all the time.

And the best advice is to ask the conductor or crew member on 156 for help. They can make sure there's Redcap waiting and help them transfer.
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