NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — By now everyone knows that Penn Station will be backed up when Amtrak starts its big repair project.
Now, WCBS-880 has confirmed that Amtrak and the MTA are discussing the possibility of easing the congestion by moving some trains to grand central.
As WCBS-880’s Alex Silverman reported, Amtrak riders have missed out on the grand gateway to New York since 1991, when the railroad started using the old west side freight route and moved all its trains to the catacombs of Penn Station.
Summer’s big repair project has forced Amtrak to look back in time and across town. Amtrak and MTA spokespeople would say only that nothing has been finalized, but Albany area assemblyman John McDonald has been privy to emails involving the two agencies.
“The fact that there’s ongoing discussion and communication up until 9:30 last night, indicates that it’s still very much in play,” he said.
Gary Prophet of the Empire State Passengers Association told WCBS 880 he has been in contact with Amtrak train crews that are already being trained to operate on the route to Grand Central Terminal.
Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert said, “Amtrak is reviewing all possible options to accommodate our customers during the New York Penn Station Infrastructure Renewal Program. We continue to work with our partners to finalize the plan.”
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, riders are itching to know which trains for the big three railroads at Penn will be impacted, and how Metro North trains at Grand Central might feel the ripple effects.
“Grand Central is a much bigger station that has double the number of tracks. Penn Station actually handles more passengers than Grand Central, even though it only has half as many tracks,” Prophet explained.
Prophet said the detailed schedule for the summer tracks promised by Amtrak’s CEO last week is overdue, and riders making summer plans now, can’t wait.
“It’s more important that they get it right, and don’t change it after they release the plan than whether it comes out today, tomorrow, or next week,” he said.
Marvin Porter, who expects chaos, said what more can he do than keep his smartphone charged and close.
“I’m a transporter. I move trucks around the country. I’m always on the train,” he said.
Asked if there would be any logistical hold up to reviving the old Amtrak route into Grand Central, McDonald told Silverman, “the logistics will work.”