Earlier this year, a pair of train derailments that caused a series of hellish delays at Penn Station led Governor Andrew Cuomo, Amtrak and other officials to call for emergency repairs at the nation's busiest travel hub. The construction, which is poised to interrupt service at Penn for eight weeks, led Cuomo to dub the situation the "summer of hell."
Details of exactly how the three rail services that run through Penn (Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit) have been sparse and vague—until now. Amtrak released a preliminary docket of service changes at the end of May, along with the announcement that construction would take longer than expected. On Friday, NJ Transit released its scheduled service changes, and the MTA announced the effects on LIRR service on Monday night.
The news isn't pretty, but it's as good as it's going to get for those who rely on Penn Station for their daily commutes. Here's what you need to know about the service changes.
The "summer of hell" will last from July 10 to September 1
Repairs on tracks at Penn were initially projected to last six weeks, but Amtrak's announcement last month noted that the work will be extended to nearly eight weeks. Track space at Penn will be decreased by roughly 20 percent to get the repairs done, leading to substantial cuts in capacity throughout the summer.
Several LIRR train lines will end in Brooklyn and Queens
To determine a plan to dampen the effects of the track closures at Penn this summer, Cuomo and the MTA put together a Penn Station Task Force (we're not kidding—that is the actual name that's been published in official documents). The group consists of 15 individuals from both the public and private sectors, and this crew has put out a grand plan to try and make life less miserable for commuters who depend on Penn every day.
The LIRR is adding three new trains operating out of Penn and will be extending the length of those trains in order to reduce the work's affect on capacity. That said, several LIRR trains will end at the Jamaica and Hunters Point stations in Queens and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. Passengers will be given free transfers to the subway, and the MTA is also providing new bus and ferry services to help shepherd passengers into Manhattan. The MTA has a complete breakdown of how every train will be affected on its website.
NJ Transit is offering discounts to riders during the construction
If you rely on NJ Transit's Midtown Direct Morristown Line or Midtown Direct Gladstone Branch, sit down—you're going to need a minute. Service on each will terminate in Hoboken during the scheduled construction (for the exception of trains on the Morristown Line that are scheduled to arrive at Penn before 7am).
NJ Transit will provide options to transfer ferries, buses and PATH trains, and it's even offering discounts up to 63 percent on tickets for affected rides. Weekend service will not be changing, and a series of minor schedule changes will be implemented on all of the service's other lines on weekdays. A full updated schedule can be found on NJ Transit's website, but the agency also encourages riders to follow it on Twitter and sign up for email alerts (presumably because no one's quite sure how awful this summer is going to be for commuters).