Starting next month, Amtrak will reduce the number of Northeast Regional trains traveling between Washington and New York — one of several service changes being put into place to accommodate expedited repairs planned this summer at New York’s Penn Station.
The changes will affect weekday service on Northeast Regional, Keystone, Empire and Crescent trains. Acela Express service will not be affected. The new schedules begin July 10 and run through Sept. 1.
“While we regret that this work requires some reduction in train service and disruption to passengers over the summer months, we believe it will ultimately be worth the investment in terms of increased reliability of passenger rail travel,” Amtrak’s president and chief executive, Wick Moorman, said.
After a series of service problems, including two derailments less than two weeks apart that left thousands of commuters fuming, Amtrak announced an aggressive repair schedule focused on fixing tracks, switches and other infrastructure issues. Instead of taking several years to make the repairs, officials hope to compress the work into several months.
Amtrak owns and operates Penn Station, the nation’s busiest rail hub. Roughly 600,000 passengers use the station daily, which is also home to several commuter rail lines operated by New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad.
Here is a breakdown of the changes:
Northeast Regional: Three round-trip trains between New York and Washington will be canceled. However, service between New York and Boston will continue at current levels.
Keystone Service: Three round-trip trains will start and end in Philadelphia and one round-trip train will start and end at Newark. Service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa., will continue at current levels.
Crescent: This long-distance route, which operates between New York City and New Orleans, will begin and end in Washington daily during the scheduled work period. Connections will be provided on other Northeast Corridor trains.
Empire Service: Changes to this route will be announced shortly.
Moorman said Amtrak will use different strategies to accommodate travelers who are affected, including lengthening trains for intercity passengers going to or from New York.
Even with a plan in place, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) is among those who have raised concerns about whether Amtrak will be able to make the necessary repairs over the next few months. In a letter to President Trump, Cuomo suggested that work be turned over to a private contractor. Cuomo also asked the Trump administration for money to help pay for “creative ways” to accommodate commuters who will be affected by the temporary service cutbacks. He estimated that there could be a 20 percent reduction in peak hour service for commuters as a result of Amtrak’s work, creating a “domino effect” that could mean increased delays on surrounding regional transit systems attempting to pick up the slack.
While Amtrak officials expressed support for Cuomo’s call for more federal funding, they were less enthusiastic about his push for a change in station management.
”Changes in management and private-sector expertise can’t make up for the billions that should have been invested to create the basic capacity and performance that commuters deserve,” Amtrak said via email. “There’s no outsourcing the leadership and responsibility needed to get this vital job done and Amtrak is stepping up to do everything we can to improve our part of this situation.”