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Amtrak to meet with LIRR, NJT on Penn Station repair plan

The entrance to Penn Station at 7th Avenue

The entrance to Penn Station at 7th Avenue near 34th Street has been closed by MTA Police due to crowding Tuesday, April 25, 2017, after Amtrak reported a power problem in an East River tunnel. Credit: Vin Barone

It may take longer than Amtrak originally thought for commuters to find out the details of a plan to take some Penn Station tracks out of service during the summer months for needed infrastructure renewal work, officials said Friday.

Charles “Wick” Moorman, president of Amtrak, which owns Penn Station, last week predicted that a final plan for the work, which is expected to cause prolonged service disruptions for the Long Island Rail Road, would be released by early next week.

But, following a Thursday meeting with representatives from the LIRR and NJ Transit, Amtrak said it will “provide clear and advance communication of these changes at the appropriate time.”

“In the coming days, we will continue to work together to develop schedules that will minimize disruptions and inconvenience for all of our customers who rely on us for service,” said Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert, who described the Thursday meeting as “productive.”

Beth DeFalco, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the LIRR’s parent agency, confirmed that “no final agreement with Amtrak” was reached during the Thursday meeting. She said the LIRR will continue discussions with Amtrak “to ensure that our riders’ best interests are represented, and we are continuing discussions with Amtrak to make sure our voice is heard.”

Amtrak’s plan to expedite the replacement of various track components on the western portion of Penn, the busiest railroad station in the U.S., follows a string of infrastructure failures in recent weeks that resulted in major services disruptions.

The recent issues and Amtrak’s plan will be the topic of a special New York State Assembly hearing in Manhattan, requested by Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach).

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, speaking in Manhattan Friday, weighed in on the spate of problems at Penn Station, which he blamed on Amtrak deferring maintenance for too long.

“We now have longer-term projects that we have to get done overnight,” Cuomo said. “The situation is intolerable and unconscionable.”

With Matthew Chayes

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