Amtrak’s summerlong infrastructure renewal project at Penn Station remains on schedule as it heads into its final week, and one key component is already in service, the agency announced Friday.
Amtrak said newly rebuilt Track 10 returned to service at the transit hub on Thursday and was being used by Amtrak and NJ Transit trains.
The reconstructed infrastructure features a newly poured concrete bed, new rail ties, running rails and electrified third rail and, for the first time, LED lights illuminating surrounding tracks. Rebuilding the track was a key element of the two-month project, which began in early July.
Amtrak chief engineer Gery Williams, speaking with reporters during a conference call Friday, said the return to service of Track 10 should help manage train traffic through Penn and “improve service” there.
Amtrak workers also were finishing the rebuilding of the complex “A Interlocking” junction just west of Penn’s platforms — the location of many of the problems that prompted the closure of three of the 21 tracks at the nation’s busiest rail station.
“We’re done with seven of the eight weeks. We are ahead of schedule. And, as committed, we’re going to return the railroad for full operations after Labor Day on Tuesday, Sept. 5,” Williams said.
With most major construction at Penn already complete, Williams said crews are now carrying out “quality control and testing” of the new track components.
Even if all the planned work is completed ahead of schedule, Williams said, Amtrak will take advantage of every last day of the scheduled track outages.
“Right now, I have work that I can do at that station until the end of next week,” Williams said.
That could include taking on unscheduled work on Track 18, which is used by the Long Island Rail Road, Williams said.
LIRR spokesman Aaron Donovan said the railroad does not expect the restoration of service on Track 10, or the potential work on Track 18, to impact the railroad’s schedule next week.
Amtrak took on the project following a series of infrastructure-related service disruptions at the century-old station. The work has reduced capacity at Penn during the so-called “summer of hell,” forcing the LIRR to reduce rush-hour service and supplement its trains with buses and ferries.
The LIRR on Thursday confirmed its intention to resume normal service on Sept. 5 and stop providing the buses and ferries, as well as fare discounts to Atlantic Terminal and Hunterspoint Avenue, by the end of next week.
Train service has gone mostly smoothly throughout the summer, including in July, when the LIRR posted its best on-time performance of the year. But there have been some hiccups along the way, including an NJ Transit train derailment at Penn early Wednesday morning — the fourth derailment there since March.
Williams said Friday that the derailment, which did not result in any injuries, had “no impact” on the ongoing track repairs and that its cause is “under investigation.”