Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby JamesRR » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:18 pm

adamj023 wrote:
AlKaLI wrote:Track 19 has chain link barriers on the platform. Will see if repairs have started on this Track as well. I believe this also is direct fixation. Hopefully won't take long.


Track 19 is scheduled from June 8th to July 20th from what I read so it should have started already. Three turnouts are being done as well as wood tie replacements from what I have heard.

2019 should be a much smoother and less disruptive year for train travelers hopefully.


I'm losing track (no pun intended) - this will be the fourth complete track rebuild at Penn, right (Track 10, 15, 18, and now 19) during this renewal program?
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby BandA » Fri Jun 22, 2018 1:30 pm

I've lost track too... how "old" were the tracks before they started to rebuild them? I.e. average age of the ties/switches.
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby adamj023 » Sat Jun 23, 2018 12:33 pm

BandA wrote:I've lost track too... how "old" were the tracks before they started to rebuild them? I.e. average age of the ties/switches.


With LGA to PHL prices coming in at rediculous pricing and with TSA security and arriving early, NYP is even more competitive now that fuel costs are on the rise and there is electrified trackage in the NEC.

39 each way for NYP to PHL saver fares now and business class is also reasonable. Acela trains don’t give much of a time improvement yet so unless you always live a champagne lifestyle with money to burn, for most people it isn’t worh the price premium and neither is airplane which costs even more.

Haven’t seen any significant issues in a long time at Penn Station and after the latest track is done, plus the other segment by September, the trains should be fine coming in and out of Penn Station. Plus Harold interlocking signal work is also being done as well which should help..

Penn Station is not falling apart anymore with the infrastructure side. From the station itself, that is a different issue where improvements are underway as well.
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby JamesRR » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:46 am

If anyone's interested, the latest Amtrak progress report featuring info on Track 19 replacement, Empire Tunnel and Empire Service repairs:

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... Report.pdf
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby adamj023 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:17 pm

JamesRR wrote:If anyone's interested, the latest Amtrak progress report featuring info on Track 19 replacement, Empire Tunnel and Empire Service repairs:

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... Report.pdf


Track 19 is the most important part of the project and fortunately will be done soon. In fact, the empire connection seems like a waste except as a backup as Grand Central is a much nicer terminal and more people work by Grand Central as well. Is the Empire Connection any faster in travel time or it just allows a unified Amtrak at Penn Station? Is the current routing as opposed to Empire connection over the existing metronorth tracks?
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby shadyjay » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:59 pm

adamj023 wrote:Track 19 is the most important part of the project and fortunately will be done soon. In fact, the empire connection seems like a waste except as a backup as Grand Central is a much nicer terminal and more people work by Grand Central as well. Is the Empire Connection any faster in travel time or it just allows a unified Amtrak at Penn Station? Is the current routing as opposed to Empire connection over the existing metronorth tracks?


While GCT is indeed much nicer and may be closer to where people work, it is not a station owned/operated by Amtrak. I'm sure Amtrak is paying Metro North for the rights to use the station this summer. Amtrak doesn't have any facilities anymore at GCT. Outside of ticket windows, I'm not sure how many other facilities they had there, pre-1991. Back then, the Amtrak ticket windows were in the passage between the waiting room and the concourse in the space over the ramps (those ticket windows are gone now). I'm not sure about baggage handling back then. Sure, it would be nice to make it work today and have Empire Service trains remain at GCT (along with the Lake Shore Limited), but from an Amtrak logistics and financial standpoint, it doesn't make much sense. Maybe when Moynihan Station gets built, it will make arriving/departing Penn more enjoyable, but... it'll never be like good ole' Grand Central (or the old Penn Station, from what I've heard).

As far as travel time, it may be a little faster for Amtrak utilizing GCT vs Penn, but nothing major I don't believe. There is a 2-track chokepoint near the Empire Connection drawbridge at Spuyten Duyvil due to the geography of the area, so things need to be timed precise through there, not to mention any Yankees baseball shuttles that run during game days, all which must run on the Park Ave viaduct. It's a busy railroad, even without Amtrak. The GCT detour utilizes Metro North tracks throughout the detour.

GCT is an extremely busy place with just Metro North trains there, and I'm sure they are making changes to accommodate Amtrak, knowing that this is short-term. Long-term, I don't know how they'd feel about that.

For an Amtrak passenger who changes to a train to other points on the NEC, there is great convenience in using Penn. I'm not sure what the percentage is of passengers who make that connection.

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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby superstar » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:47 am

I've connected a number of times from Empire Service trains to Regionals going south. If that involved a transfer between CGT and Penn, I'd have looked a lot more seriously at a bus or driving. I'm sure someone at Amtrak looks at the number of such connections, and how many fewer are made this summer.
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby Railjunkie » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:06 am

One of the reasons for Empire trains moving out of GCT was Amtrak wanted everything under one roof. It makes it much easier for transfers to corridor trains and for Amtrak to service the trains. Its about 2 miles less to Penn but there is a lot less traffic between DV and Penn, unless you happen to catch the bridge open or have to wait at CP Empire its a little quicker.
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:09 pm

It's also easier to swap out equipment if something is found bad-ordered. If a train originates at GCT and there's a substitute
available at Sunnyside it might as well be on the moon.
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby Ridgefielder » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:45 am

shadyjay wrote:While GCT is indeed much nicer and may be closer to where people work, it is not a station owned/operated by Amtrak. I'm sure Amtrak is paying Metro North for the rights to use the station this summer. Amtrak doesn't have any facilities anymore at GCT. Outside of ticket windows, I'm not sure how many other facilities they had there, pre-1991. Back then, the Amtrak ticket windows were in the passage between the waiting room and the concourse in the space over the ramps (those ticket windows are gone now). I'm not sure about baggage handling back then.

I rode the Lake Shore into GCT ca. '87 or 88' with my parents. I seem to recall claiming the checked baggage on the platform up near the train gate. Not 100% sure, though. It's a long time ago, and I was 12.

Most of the baggage/mail handling infrastructure was ripped out in the mid-1990's renovation. IIRC the tunnels were re-purposed for the new HVAC system.
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby johndmuller » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:31 pm

One thinks it is possible to have upstate service of some sort from BOTH Penn and GCT. Clearly, there is some desire for GCT service from those with an NYC destination in midtown (or most anywhere besides Penn); just as clearly, there is a desire for NYP service for those who want NEC connections or want the Penn neighborhood for something like MSG.

The company/jurisdictional issues could be resolved if MN were to acquire suitable trackage rights from Amtrak and run its own service from at least Albany to GCT. They could compete head on or create some distinctions like MN being the low-cost carrier and Amtrak being the first class. The fares, schedules, comfort level of coaches, and whatever else could be in play as elements of choice as well, or it could be mostly which NYC destination was used. The Empire service is financed by NY State, as is the MN service, so they would probably rather not compete in too cut-throat a fashion, but they could find some reasonable way of carving up the business.

With MN handling the GCT business there would be none of these hassles about Amtrak's equipment servicing; issues about MN's equipment being up to snuff can be addressed by getting more comfortable coaches.

There are still issues, of course, particularly - is there enough total demand and can it be conveniently split up among the two services. Factors like transfers between the two services, pricing, amenities, and managing short-haul commuters to maintain seats for full-ride passengers while still enabling some profitable rush hour business should be solvable if the total demand is there.
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby Greg Moore » Sat Jul 14, 2018 8:04 am

adamj023 wrote:
JamesRR wrote:If anyone's interested, the latest Amtrak progress report featuring info on Track 19 replacement, Empire Tunnel and Empire Service repairs:

https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/proj ... Report.pdf


Track 19 is the most important part of the project and fortunately will be done soon. In fact, the empire connection seems like a waste except as a backup as Grand Central is a much nicer terminal and more people work by Grand Central as well. Is the Empire Connection any faster in travel time or it just allows a unified Amtrak at Penn Station? Is the current routing as opposed to Empire connection over the existing metronorth tracks?

Don't underestimate the value of the unified Amtrak.

As a person who spent 4.5 years commuting between ALB and WAS and sometimes still works for a client in Pennsylvania, being in one station is a huge plus.
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby NaugyRR » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:04 am

johndmuller wrote:One thinks it is possible to have upstate service of some sort from BOTH Penn and GCT. Clearly, there is some desire for GCT service from those with an NYC destination in midtown (or most anywhere besides Penn); just as clearly, there is a desire for NYP service for those who want NEC connections or want the Penn neighborhood for something like MSG.

The company/jurisdictional issues could be resolved if MN were to acquire suitable trackage rights from Amtrak and run its own service from at least Albany to GCT. They could compete head on or create some distinctions like MN being the low-cost carrier and Amtrak being the first class. The fares, schedules, comfort level of coaches, and whatever else could be in play as elements of choice as well, or it could be mostly which NYC destination was used. The Empire service is financed by NY State, as is the MN service, so they would probably rather not compete in too cut-throat a fashion, but they could find some reasonable way of carving up the business.

With MN handling the GCT business there would be none of these hassles about Amtrak's equipment servicing; issues about MN's equipment being up to snuff can be addressed by getting more comfortable coaches.

There are still issues, of course, particularly - is there enough total demand and can it be conveniently split up among the two services. Factors like transfers between the two services, pricing, amenities, and managing short-haul commuters to maintain seats for full-ride passengers while still enabling some profitable rush hour business should be solvable if the total demand is there.


From what I've heard, one of the major push-backs against Metro-North servicing towns north of Poughkeepsie is that Columbia and Rensselaer Counties would be subject to the MTA Tax charged in Dutchess, Westchester, etc.

Personally I think unless Metro-North trains were running express/super-express between Albany and GCT, the ride would be too long as a viable commuter service. Plus Metro-North would have to set-up layover facilities at the Rensselaer shop, which I bet Amtrak would be as happy as Metro-North would be with Amtrak taking up room in GCT :-D .

For now I think the status quo should be maintained. Maybe once Metro-North trains start accessing Penn, Amtrak could trade some Penn slots for GCT ones, but that's total foamer dream. I'm one of the people who would prefer Empire Trains go to GCT, but it is what it is, c'est la vie.
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby east point » Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:09 pm

NYP or NYG ? ? We think it all depends on where a rider wants to end up or originate in NYC ?
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Re: Penn Station Emergency Repairs: Trackwork, etc.

Postby adamj023 » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:20 pm

Penn Station’s projects are already in progress where it will get better. This summer is probably the worst of the disruptions planned for Penn Station and after that it will be improved even further over time.

Up until recently, Amtrak was a total disaster at Penn Station. Track 19 will be ready soon and the Harold Amtrak bypass I presume isn’t ready yet but will help as well when it is completed for Northeastern Corridor trains.
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