Ron LeeJan 8, 2018, 12:06 pmJan 8, 2018, 1:43 pm

New round of track repairs at Penn Station forces LIRR to make service adjustments

Small percentage of rush hour trains set to be diverted


MINEOLA — If the MTA sticks to its game plan, the latest round of Amtrak-related repair work at Penn Station will last only until May 28. The changes should only affect a small fraction of the 184 Long Island Railroad rush hour trains that run each weekday.

If the MTA can keep that promise, riders like Rasik Shah of Mineola believe any slight inconvenience will be worth it.

"If this cuts down on the breakdowns by 30 percent, I’ll be happy because breakdowns are more of a problem than a little disruption," Shah says.

With most of the repair work set to take place during off-peak hours and on weekends, Amtrak estimates it will have reconstructed as many as three tracks at Penn Station that normally service LIRR customers in 4-months’ time.

To accommodate that work, the LIRR is diverting five morning rush hour trains and three evening rush hour trains that usually terminate or originate at Penn Station to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn or to Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens. That number is fewer than the 30-plus rush hour trains that were diverted each day last summer when Amtrak completed an earlier phase of this infrastructure project to modernize Penn Station.

And while the LIRR is downplaying any inconveniences all this could cause, the LIRR Commuter Council is concerned that the MTA may find it difficult to stick to its game plan due to problems with snow, tracks, and other winter-related issues.

"Will they have enough trains? Will they have enough cars? Over the last several weeks, actually we've had a lot of what they call cancel and combines, where they'll cancel trains and combine them with others. And then a lot of trains have been running two cars short," say Gerard Bringmann of the LIRR Commuter Council.

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