We’re four days into Penn Station’s “summer of hell” repair work, which is closing three tracks at a clip at the busy New York City terminal, but what happens if the work isn’t complete by the Sept. 1 target?
Outgoing Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman gave an inclination during a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and alluded to what we're dubbing an "autumn of anguish" or even "weekends of woe."
“If things start to look like they’re running behind at the end, we have the ability to … finish out whatever we don’t get to in subsequent weekend outages,” Moorman said.
Though that statement may offer a bleak vote of confidence, Moorman is sure the repair work, which has caused extensive service changes for Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road riders, will be done on schedule.
“We’ve done an exceptional and extraordinary amount of planning on the material side, and we have a lot of skilled people,” he said.
Amtrak owns and operates Penn Station’s 21 tracks, and the repairs began on Monday to fix the aged and neglected rail infrastructure at the nation’s busiest rail terminal, which serves more than 650,000 commuters each day. The work, and the ensuing service changes, are slated to continue until Sept. 1.
The two-month work was part of an already-planned initiative that was expedited following a slew of service issues, including two train derailments, at Penn Station.
While the repair work was dubbed a “summer of hell” by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo when Amtrak first announced the track shutdown, it has been a quiet kind of hell for many of those who travel in and out of the city via Penn Station.
Moorman chalked that up to the advance notice Amtrak gave.
“What commuters hate is when you have an unplanned disruption. This summer, while there are disruptions, [riders have] known about it a month in advance. People figure it out if they know what's going on,” he said.
Moorman, who will leave Amtrak at the end of the year, is currently sharing CEO duties with Richard Anderson, the former head of Delta Airlines, who started with the company on Wednesday.