Penn Station is widely regarded as one of the most miserable places in all of New York City. The rail hub serves upwards of 600,000 commuters each and every day. It lacks natural light, is terribly confusing to navigate and feels more like a cattle yard than one of the most-trafficked transit centers in the world. The problems facing the station are much more than cosmetic— a pair of recent derailments, rampant track closures and even raining poop water have brought its deep-rooted issues to the center of the city's attention.
Amtrak, which owns all of the tracks at Penn Station and lease several out to NJ Transit and the Long Island Rail Road, is scrambling to come up with a plan to make much-needed repairs to the station's deteriorating infrastructure. Last week, Amtrak released a statement that laid out some of the projects that need to be completed in order to keep trains running along all of Penn's tracks, and it isn't pretty. One of the most daunting tasks laid out in the announcement is renewing tracks and switches across the station, particularly "A Interlocking," which is the sorting mechanism that routes trains entering Penn via the Hudson River Tunnels or LIRR's West Side Yard. Much of this infrastructure dates back to the 1970s, and is in dire need of an update.
Amtrak has not announced a timeline detailing how or when this work will be completed, but a report from the Times says that the organization's current plan is to close tracks and reduce service over a three week period in July and almost all of August. The powers that be at Amtrak are planning to meet with the heads of Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit and the MTA this week, and a finalized plan will be released to the public next week.
Officials at Penn Station are stuck between a rock and a hard place. After decades of failing to make necessary updates to the station's infrastructure, it's looking like they're left with no other choice than to gunk up service throughout the summer in an effort to catch up. The repairs are not going to be fun for anyone involved. If you rely on Penn for your daily commute, it might be time to ask your doctor for a Xanax prescription.