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Amtrak: Penn Station infrastructure upgrades to be completed by Labor Day

Amtrak announced Wednesday it is on track to complete, by Labor Day, its latest Penn Station infrastructure upgrades, which are causing some disruptions for thousands of Long Island Rail Road commuters.  (Credit: Newsday / Shelby Knowles)

Amtrak is on track to complete, by late this summer, its latest Penn Station infrastructure upgrades, which are causing some disruptions for thousands of Long Island Rail Road commuters. 

In a conference call with reporters to update the agency's progress on its Penn Station Infrastructure Renewal effort, Amtrak Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Naparstek said the latest round of repairs is on schedule to be finished by Labor Day — Monday, Sept. 2. 

The work, which began on June 28, entails the replacement of several pieces of rail infrastructure in the century-old transit hub, with a focus on a critical switching location just east of the station platforms, known as "J.O. Interlocking" that is frequently used by LIRR trains. 

Naparstek said some of the upgrades will result in "improved ride quality and reliability" for train passengers. 

Amtrak has steadily modernized several components of Penn's infrastructure over the past two years, following a string of problems — including three derailments — that snarled train service there. 

Unlike the first summer of repairs in 2017, which resulted in multiple track outages and the LIRR having to curtail rush hour service by about 20 percent, the current work has resulted in the LIRR canceling just 14 of 274 morning and evening rush hour trains.

Naparstek said the reduced impact on customers is due to Amtrak having more time to coordinate with the LIRR than it did in July and August of 2017, a period that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo famously dubbed "the summer of hell."

"I think you're seeing the advantages of being able to have the planning and communication time," Naparstek said. 

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