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Get ready for another “summer of hell” at Penn Station

By Clayton Guse

Last 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 to the nation's busiest transit hub. The construction that followed, which primarily focused on rehabbing the dilapidated “A Interlocking” system, interrupted service at the station for eight weeks, and before it kicked off Cuomo prognosticated that it would lead to a “summer of hell.”

On Tuesday, months after the 600,000 people who rely on Penn every day thought they were out of the woods, Amtrak announced another stretch of construction coming this summer. The work will focus on Track 19 at Penn Station, the Empire Tunnel on the West Side and the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge over the Harlem River. The bridge and tunnel work will force Amtrak trains running on the Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Adirondack and Maple Leaf lines to be rerouted to Grand Central Terminal from May 26 through September 4.

The work on Track 19 will kick off on June 8 and run through July 20. During that stretch, Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit will continue to operate on the modified schedule that they've been using since another run of repairs began at Penn Station earlier this year. That work has affected service on eight LIRR trains, five NJ Transit trains and eight Amtrak trains. Representatives from both the MTA and NJ Transit confirmed that there would not be any additional service changes.

While the summertime construction might not lead to the “summer of hell” that commuters underwent last year, the work is poised to cause minor changes in service and some confusion for Amtrak riders who didn't get the memo to head to Grand Central. Also, it's worth noting that any summer at Penn Station is pretty damn hellish.

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