Hudson Valley commuters face "Summer of Hell"

Penn Station
Penn Station

11 July, 2017

Amtrak workers continue ongoing infrastructure renewal work on the tracks beneath Penn Station, Sunday, July 9, 2017, in NY.

Those problems will have to wait for the completion of the Gateway project, which plans to build a second rail tunnel under the Hudson River, fix damage in the existing tunnel from 2012's Superstorm Sandy and make substantial improvements on the New Jersey side and in Penn Station. Instead, the most noticeable inconvenience that Boston-based users of Penn Station might notice is more crowded Amtrak trains.

With the exception of four trains that reach Penn by 7 a.m., commuters who have relied on NJT's Morris-Essex line to get to Manhattan in less than an hour are being diverted to Hoboken during the eight weeks of work.

"A lot of confusion and too many people gathered in one space", said Lex Marshall, 35, of Morristown.

The summer's accelerated fix work, prompted by two derailments this spring, will close some of the station's 21 tracks and require a roughly 20 percent reduction in the number of commuter trains coming in from New Jersey and Long Island.

New York Waterway ferries will be running every 15 minutes between Hoboken and New York during rush hour.

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As a way for the thousands of affected commuters to avoid the inevitable headaches they will face while the work continues through September 1, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota suggested on Sunday that they "try to come in earlier - or later if your job allows it". "Everybody's just bumping into each other, pushing each other to get to their destination". "I actually moved to Hoboken to not deal with this from Bergen County because Penn Station was so bad and now I feel like we're dealing with it all over again".

Amtrak started the extensive repairs to tracks and signals in Penn Station.

NJ Transit executive director Steve Santoro says this "will not be a normal commute".

The work is scheduled to last through the end of August. The vast majority are commuters riding New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad.

The day of reckoning has come for rail commuters into New York City. New Jersey Transit is diverting some rush hour trains to Hoboken, where passengers can switch to PATH trains or ferries.

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