Amtrak to Curtail Service to New York for Tunnel Repairs

By Paul Riegler on 2 October 2014
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Interior of Amtrak train en route to New York from Washington, D.C.

Interior of Amtrak train en route to New York from Washington, D.C.

Amtrak announced on Wednesday that it will begin to repair damage to its tunnels leading to New York City that stemmed from Hurricane Sandy and that the closure of at least one tube would result in significantly reduced service starting in 2015.

Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, and floodwaters from the storm damaged two tubes of the East River Tunnel that connects Manhattan and Queens, as well as both tubes of Amtrak’s two-track tunnel under the Hudson River linking New York with the mainland.

The railroad said that the repairs will impact service for at least two years.  Two commuter rail services use Amtrak’s East River tunnels as well – the Long Island Rail Road uses them for its regular service, while New Jersey Transit uses it to reach a rail yard in Queens to park its trains.

The project is expected to cost at least $328 million.  Much of the expense is being covered by the railroad’s insurance companies.

The shutdown of one of the East River tubes will have a less dramatic impact on service, according to Amtrak, reducing capacity by less than 25%.  The real challenge comes when work begins under the Hudson River because it is the only direct rail link between Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and all points west on the mainland.  Because only one tube will be operating during repairs then, the sole track will have to be used for both eastbound and westbound traffic.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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