Amtrak service at Penn Station in Manhattan has been temporarily...

Amtrak service at Penn Station in Manhattan has been temporarily suspended three times since June 20. Credit: TNS/Daniel Slim/AFP

A lightning strike Saturday triggered the third temporary suspension of Amtrak service at Manhattan's Penn Station in just over two weeks.

The latest outage suspended service Saturday afternoon to Boston. Service was restored about 9 p.m. Saturday.

The suspension also resulted in a handful of Amtrak trains being affected Sunday.

Afterward, Amtrak said in a statement it was “communicating directly with customers impacted by these adjustments and offering options for rebooking their travel plans. Amtrak apologizes for any inconvenience caused by the disruption.”

But questions remain about the suspensions, the potential for more in the future, and the steps transportation officials are taking to ease customers' concerns.

What recourse exists for an Amtrak customer when their train is suspended?

In the case of Saturday's suspension, Amtrak said in a statement those customers affected would be “accommodated on trains with similar departure times or another day.”

The company waived additional charges for affected customers looking to change their reservations.

On its website, Amtrak provides more information about travelers' options overall.

“Whether due to a delay or cancellation, you can modify your trip on Amtrak.com, through the Amtrak app, by texting a customer service representative at 268725 , chatting at Amtrak.com, with customer ticketing agents in the station or calling 800-872-7245.

What has led to service suspensions?

A passenger advocate said at least some of the service suspensions were the result of "aged infrastructure.”

Amtrak's “Gateway Program,” a series of infrastructure projects to improve the 10-mile section of rail between Newark and Penn Station, is underway.

“While many improvement projects and state of good repair projects are underway, you can't repair everything all at once and try to operate a system,” said Bruce Becker, president of the Empire State Passengers Association. “Certainly I think the high temperatures have contributed to some of that.”

Amtrak senior public relations manager Jason Abrams said Saturday's suspension was simply a result of the lightning strike and not a symptom of anything greater.

What steps are being taken to investigate Amtrak service disruptions?

Amtrak and NJ Transit announced a joint plan on June 27 to investigate the causes behind service disruptions on June 20-21 that affected service at Penn Station, according to Newsday.

A circuit breaker malfunction June 20 forced Amtrak to temporarily suspend trains operating between Philadelphia's 30th Street Station and New Haven's Union Station. The following morning, power issues coupled with a disabled train in Penn Station delayed NJ Transit and Amtrak service in and out of the city.

Amtrak and NJ Transit will perform “extensive and frequent” examinations of their infrastructure and equipment, including the approximately 170 miles of tracks between Trenton and New York City, signals and overhead electrical wires, according to an Amtrak news release last month.

“We understand the impact the recent events had on both Amtrak and NJ Transit customers and their families, and we share their frustration,” Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said in the news release. “It's vital we work with NJ Transit to identify the root cause of these disruptions and return to on-time service and the quality experience customers expect.”

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