Amtrak, NJ Transit Warn of Another Day of Possible Delays

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NJ Transit says commuters should expect for more delays for the Wednesday morning rush at Penn Station, issues that could continue for days if not weeks to come. 

Amtrak said Tuesday an overhead electrical system issue in one of the four East River tunnels at Penn Station affected the commuter rails that travel there, which brought hours of delays and cancellations on the Tuesday evening commute. 

Now, that problem was fixed by workers, but Amtrak is currently performing track maintenance, inspections and delays — and those delays are expected in the days and possibly even weeks to come. 

Some tracks may also be taken out of service from time to time, which will cause for even more disruptions. 

LIRR on Tuesday was initially forced to suspend westbound service to Penn Station and cancel multiple eastbound trains as a result of the ongoing issues, but the railroad is expected to resume a regular schedule Wednesday morning. 

The message for commuters is to give yourself at least 15 to 30 minutes extra time for travel. 

NJ Transit is issuing “delay letters” for customers to give to employers if they have experienced delays getting to work. 

You can get the letter online or you can also stop by one of the customer service offices and pick a copy up. 

“I do worry everyday and I’m thinking about telecommuting,” Betty Kornbluth said. “I’m thinking about working from home and I’m thinking about coming in one day a week. It’s very difficult to deal with.” 

Penn Station was getting so crowded at one point Tuesday that police had to temporarily restrict access to the station at the 34th Street-7th Avenue entrance.

“It’s not really an option for me to drive, so as these situations pop up, I have no choice but to roll with the punches and deal with it and be frustrated,” said Randi Pivnick of Oceanside. “It’s awful.”

Kenneth Decota of Westbury said the issues have been recurring “pretty much all the time.” 

“You just start feeling better and then the next problem comes up,” he said. 

The nightmare rush hour came as Amtrak said it is putting together plans to renew infrastructure at Penn Station. Spokeswoman Christina Leeds said in a statement to News 4 Tuesday that “this renewal effort will replace and rejuvenate the selected infrastructure providing needed updates, and is different than the ongoing repair work in New York Penn.”

The work, however, will result in delays and cancellations for the already beleaguered rail customers who travel in and out of the congested hub. Leeds said Amtrak will announce more about its plans in the coming days, and will be working with Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit to schedule the work and minimize service impacts. 

Amtrak leases tracks and equipment at Penn Station to the commuter rails. Both the MTA and NJ Transit have blamed Amtrak for poor upkeep on those tracks, and both New Jersey and New York officials have threatened the possibility of lawsuits against Amtrak over the condition of the rails in the region. 

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The rush-hour problems Tuesday were just the latest in what has seemed to commuters like an incessant string of rail problems:

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