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Amtrak: Penn Station work on schedule, first phase complete

Amtrak workers continue repairs during the major overhaul

Amtrak workers continue repairs during the major overhaul at the "A interlocking" switch area July 14, 2017, at Penn Station. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Amtrak has completed phase one of its infrastructure renewal work at Penn Station on schedule, but the next part of the job promises to be more complicated, an agency official said Friday.

In its weekly progress report for the Penn repairs, Amtrak said the initial three weeks of work included “the demolition, removal and renewal” of track switches in an area west of the station’s platforms known as “A Interlocking.” As part of that work, crews replaced wooden rail ties and installed new switch machines.

Over the past week, Amtrak crews also installed new third rails, poured concrete and performed signal and power tests on the new tracks.

The second and final phase, expected to last until Labor Day weekend, includes completely replacing a “diamond scissor crossing,” a particularly complex junction where parallel rails cross over each other, creating a diamond shape.

Amtrak chief engineer Gery Williams said the upcoming work will also require replacing tracks that are “encased in concrete” that will have to be demolished and repoured.

“The second phase is more complicated,” said Williams, who added that, with 360 workers dedicated to the effort, he expects it to get done on time

“We’re very focused on delivering the railroad back to the public on Sept. 5,” Williams said. “We do not see any issues with meeting that date.”

The ongoing construction work has required taking three of the transit hub’s 21 tracks out of service for most of July and August, resulting in the LIRR reducing rush-hour service at the station.

As the first two did, the third week of the Long Island Rail Road’s “summer of hell,” as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has dubbed it, went largely smoothly.

The MTA revealed Wednesday that its mitigation plan, which includes operating express buses and ferries, reducing fares to Atlantic Terminal and Hunterspoint Avenue, and having more customer service personnel available, will cost the agency nearly $58 million.

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