Amtrak Restores Service At Penn Station As Commuters Endure Another Morning Of Delays

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Amtrak has restored service to all tracks at Penn Station, but Long Island Rail Road and NJ TRANSIT riders still faced delays and cancellations for the morning rush.

The LIRR canceled ten trains to Penn Friday morning because it said Amtrak did not finish track repairs in time.

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“Because Amtrak crews did not finish track repair work by 4 a.m. as promised and because they did not grant access to tracks overnight so that Long Island Rail Road could pre-position trains, LIRR is forced to once again operate a reduced morning rush-hour schedule this morning,” the rail road said.

It also terminated three trains at Jamaica and diverted one train to Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens. The LIRR said it still plans on having full evening rush-hour service.

Meanwhile, NJ TRANSIT said Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line rail service is operating on a regular weekday schedule and MidTown Direct trains, which had been diverted to Hoboken, are now operating into Penn.

But it warned that customers may still face delays and says cross honoring remains in effect system-wide.

On Twitter, Amtrak also said passengers should expect residual delays with scheduled operations resuming in the afternoon.

“We apologize for the delays as we worked to make these repairs,” it said.

Eight of the 21 tracks maintained by Amtrak have been out of service since Monday morning, when a NJ TRANSIT train derailed, causing cancellations and lengthy delays for travelers on Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT and the LIRR.

On Thursday, Amtrak promised that full rail service at Penn would be restored by Friday morning.

Amtrak’s President and CEO Wick Moorman also said Thursday that he wanted to personally apologize to anyone inconvenienced by the derailment, saying, “we know we let them down.”

The service disruptions all week were frustrating for many commuters.

“I am frustrated with the way Amtrak has handled this whole situation,” LIRR rider Brenda Lee Richards told CBS2’s Erin Logan. “I am frustrated.”

“Amtrak is worried about the rest of the country,” said commuter Ira Gabe. “They’re not worried about the infrastructure of the tracks that run down in Penn Station.”

“They’re the ones transporting our passengers and the costs keep going up,” another man told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

“I didn’t go in two days, I saw what was going on so I didn’t even bother,” another man told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa. “I worked from home.”

Monday’s incident came just 10 days after an Amtrak train derailed and scraped against a NJ TRANSIT train. Moorman said track problems were to blame for both derailments.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, an expert said the problems at Penn Station this week might become even more common unless and until the rail system can be maintained and upgraded properly.

Commuter advocate Jim Cameron said the problem is money, and the federal government does not want to provide it.

“What’s it going to take?” Cameron said. “Is it going to take the collapse of one of those tunnels to convince Washington that the economy of the northeast — in fact the economy of the nation — depends on the reliability and safety of that infrastructure?”

Cameron wanted to know when President Donald Trump will deliver on his promised infrastructure plan.

MarK Epstein from the Long Island Commuter Council also said after the statements by Moorman, he worries about riders’ safety.

“We cannot allow budget games to interfere with people’s lives, and that’s what we’re dealing with now, we’re dealing with lives here. Safety concerns have to be the priority of any carrier,” he told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “The fact that this was allowed to continue and have those trains using the rail that they knew was bad is beyond reprehensible.”

New Jersey Gov. Christie fired off a letter to Amtrak’s chairman, saying he has directed NJ TRANSIT to withhold funds until an independent inspection verifies Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is in a state of good repair.

“Amtrak’s apparent disregard for NJ TRANSIT’s customers is entirely unacceptable to me,” he said.

He also wrote to the state’s attorney general, requesting that NJ TRANSIT be reimbursed for the $62 million payment made by the state to Amtrak last week for capital investment along the Northeast Corridor rails.

Moorman said he understands Christie is frustrated but added that withholding money “is not going to solve any of the problems.”

Moorman called the state of the infrastructure “fair” but said “we have been through some periods in the not-too-distant past where Amtrak has not received a great deal of funding and we have a lot of catch-up to do.”

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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