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

An Amtrak train got stuck outside of Penn

An Amtrak train got stuck outside of Penn Station on April 25, 2017. Above, an Amtrak train is seen in February 2011. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

Officials from Amtrak, owner and operator of Penn Station, are to meet Thursday with tenants LIRR and NJ Transit to work out details of a summerlong project to repair the rail hub’s aging infrastructure.

Amtrak documents obtained by Newsday show the agency has proposed two separate track shutdowns totaling 44 days. However, Metropolitan Transportation Authority and NJ Transit officials have not yet agreed to the plan.

Meanwhile, New York State lawmakers will grill Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road officials next week on the impact on commuters from a planned improvements at Penn Station, which suffered another infrastructure failure on Wednesday.

The New York State Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, which oversees the LIRR, will hold a public hearing May 11 in Manhattan to discuss the recent slew of problems originating at Penn Station, and on Amtrak’s plan to take several tracks out of service for weeks at a time this summer to upgrade the station’s aging infrastructure.

“I’m not certain that either Amtrak or the MTA will have plans finalized, but we certainly want to get as much information as possible out of Amtrak as to what they’re going to do, when they’re going to start to do it, how long it’s going to take, and how they are going to minimize the disruptions to the commuters,” Assemb. Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) said Wednesday.

Amtrak announced the project last week after a string of major service disruptions caused by infrastructure failures at Penn Station, including two derailments in just over a week.

On Wednesday, LIRR commuters arriving at Penn were greeted by the sight of water raining down onto the customer concourse area from burst pipes at 2 Penn Plaza just above. Witnesses complained of the stench from the water, which was collected in large trash bins. The leak was repaired by the afternoon and did not affect train service.

However, signal trouble at Penn Station hours later resulted in delays and cancellations for LIRR commuters at the height of the evening rush.

Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) on Wednesday called on the LIRR to reduce fares for riders during the expected summer service track shutdowns, and for Amtrak to reimburse the railroad for the lost revenue.

“Amtrak improving Penn’s infrastructure is a necessary step, but those repairs will also mean even more delays, cancellations and service disruptions for Long Island commuters,” Phillips said. “Passengers should not be charged the same amount for less service. If service is going to get cut, then fares should be reduced by the same amount.”

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