Amtrak & NY Penn; can't win for losing

Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman (the only real railroad man at the helm in many years), announced last week they were accelerating the schedule for repair or replacement of critical turnouts in the interlocking leading from the North River tunnels into NY Penn's platform tracks. Due to several recent incidents of trackwork failures and admitted deferred maintenance.

A result of this work program will be an extended period of daily delays over the summer, which I imagine as unavoidable due to the high volume of traffic in & out of NY Penn.

Now, the local politicians scream bloody murder about the proposed delays, after they screamed bloody murder over the recent derailments and delays. In obvious moves to appear sympathetic to the commuters (read voters).

NY Penn is the busiest terminal in the country, with an very complex interlocking plant. Now that Moorman has pledged to fix the problem, one would think a tempered wait-and-see attitude would prevail. Not so.

I do not envy the task these railroad men face.

I am John Galt !

Chris

Original Post

The split ownership situation, where Amtrak, NJ Transit and the MTA/LIRR, all responding to different political masters, attempt to position themselves as 'not my fault'. It's not like the old days where the PRR had central decision making. Worrying is the talk about adding more private contractors to the mix to coordinate among the RRs. My experience is adding another decision making point just doubles the amount of time anything takes to get done.

-pjl

Put a bunch of politicians and several agencies in a room together and see how much gets accomplished - NOTHING! Those of us who live in the area know this all to well. I will say that Amtrak should not be in charge of a station that they use the least out of the other 3 RR's.

Three Rails Are Better Than None 

Joe Hohmann posted:

We are going from Phila to Boston on Thursday. We were notified that 9 minutes were added to the trip time, coming and going. I hope it's only 9 minutes.

Actually, the fact we arrived 30 minutes late was due to on and off track work in CT. Very frustrating going 15 mph on about 6 occasions. No delay in NY Penn station.

I just returned from a 2,500 mile auto trip across several states.  There were several traffic slowdowns in each state for highway work.  There is no getting around that repairs to busy rail lines and roads are going to require slowdowns.  The alternate is to completely close the road or rail line for a short period and go all out.  However, that isn't usually an option for busy congested sections that do not have alternate routes.

NH Joe

Amtrak announced today that they are not doing any repair work this year that will benefit the LIRR. They will disrupt service on the LIRR though as usual.

Here's a photo of "A" Interlocking just west of the platforms in Penn. Going to be a LONG Summer.

image

Three Rails Are Better Than None 

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The men currently employed in trackwork have decades of experience in the complicated and dangerous job of replacing trackwork and signaling in the terminal. Governor Cuomos screeching to "contract out" this work and introduce an entirely new level of supervisory bureaucracy is absurd. We need an additional set of Hudson River tunnels as of yesterday, for starters. It isn't necessarily incompetence that is slowing work. Safety considerations for the trackworkers mean delayed trains. It is not a question of benefiting the LIRR or NJT over AMTRAK. This work cannot be speeded up.

Amtrak is the sole owner of NY Penn station but the LIRR and NJ Transit account for 92% of the use. Of the 1000 trains that arrive and depart at Penn station less than 100 are Amtrak. NJT and LIRR account for most of the wear, use and the federal gov't will pay the bill for the track upgrades. The truth is that Penn station has been overloaded far beyond capacity for the last 20 years. New Hudson river tunnels and a new station are needed but all we hear from are the crabby incompetent politicians in NY and NJ that want to farm the work out to their political donors. 

Builder of the Hill Lines ( New Delta Lines). Recreating history for the model RR community.

Dennis LaGrua posted:

Amtrak is the sole owner of NY Penn station but the LIRR and NJ Transit account for 92% of the use. Of the 1000 trains that arrive and depart at Penn station less than 100 are Amtrak. NJT and LIRR account for most of the wear, use and the federal gov't will pay the bill for the track upgrades. The truth is that Penn station has been overloaded far beyond capacity for the last 20 years. New Hudson river tunnels and a new station are needed but all we hear from are the crabby incompetent politicians in NY and NJ that want to farm the work out to their political donors. 

This is when feeding that "Underground Economy" pays off.

Cuomo oversimplifies the issues. The trackwork is  "special work" which must be engineered, built off-site, and then the old rails and ties replaced in a short window of time. And there are hundreds of unique switches! Much of the trackwork is worn out. And then there is tie and ballast replacement to consider. Some trackwork is new. Other trackwork is worn down. The current employees and maintenance crews cannot be simply "speeded up". And hiring "outside contractors" as Cuomo proposes will not change the fact the rehab project has a "critical path", and crying "the sky is falling" is not a productive approach to the problem.

I think the 'special contractors' is politico speak to the masses, telling them "see I am on your side, I am going to make this happen so quick your head will spin", when the reality is getting outside contractors likely won't do much, it is the old 'mythical man month' come back to life, that on many projects putting more people on it won't speed it up, ie that if 2 people can do it in 4 days, 4 people can do it in 2, just isn't always the truth. 

Cuomo is amazing, the state has been screwing over the MTA with the subway system, which with the city at 8.5 million people and the trains carrying 4 times what it did at the depths of the 1970's, he has basically refused to put money into the system, despite the fact that tax revenue into the state from NYC has soared in recent decades...but now he is trying to position himself as caring about the people using the station.

The sad fact is that likely they will patch together the tracks, then within the next 5 years face a major crisis in the tunnels to NJ or Long Island because nothing with get done. Given the current political environment, despite Penn Station being so busy, it is likely the funding for the gateway project and other improvements will be ripped out of the federal budget and we will limp along until the tunnels are ready to collapse, then it will be a crisis. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person
superwarp1 posted:

Didn't I read somewhere Amtrak was thinking of temperately moving to GST to relieve the congestion at Penn during the rehab work?

Yes, around May 17-18, that was all over the airwaves for the local radio and TV news. Then it sort of disappeared and I never heard any more about it so, either it died or it is still being negotiated.

  Tom 

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Engineer-Joe


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