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Penn Station’s summer track repairs will actually finish on time

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Expect service to get back to normal on September 5

Max Touhey

The “summer of hell” is near its end: Amtrak announced today that track work at Penn Station is moving right along, with scheduled repairs due to wrap up on time and normal service to resume on September 5. The repairs, which got underway in July, were intended to last for eight weeks, and Amtrak has managed to stick to that schedule.

According to the rail agency, the work on the station’s “A interlocking,” which is the mechanism that helps bring trains in and out of Penn Station, is close to being completed—“nearly seven of the eight weeks of the summer infrastructure renewal work” is done, per a press release, and tracks and switches in the A interlocking have been completely replaced.

Once the work is complete and Penn Station gets back to normal, the myriad schedule changes that have been in place since July 10 will go back to normal—which may be bad news for Empire Service riders, who’ve been traveling in and out of Grand Central Terminal since then.

“We thank customers for their patience while we renew the infrastructure at New York Penn Station. We also appreciate the collaboration and support of our commuter partners, NJ TRANSIT and the Long Island Rail Road,” Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman said in a statement.

Even though the so-called “summer of hell”—a term coined by Governor Andrew Cuomo—hasn’t been as bad as commuters expected, there have still been some snafus in the six weeks or so that repairs have been taking place. Earlier this week, an empty NJ Transit train derailed around 4 a.m.—one of several derailments that have happened at Penn since the beginning of the year—causing moderate delays for commuters.

Those earlier derailments were the impetus for the total closure of tracks at Penn Station to begin with, and while this phase of work is close to being done, it’s not the end of repairs altogether. According to Amtrak, “additional work will last through approximately June 2018, with most of it taking place on weekends.”