Penn Station train changes announced for winter track work

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N.J. Burkett is live from Penn Station with details on the changes coming to Amtrak. (Richard Drew)

Amtrak will take three tracks at Penn Station out of service for five months for repairs early next year, a follow up to the summer's continuous construction project, the MTA announced at its LIRR subcommittee meeting Monday.

Tracks 15, 18, and 19 -- all used by the LIRR -- will be taken out of service in January and will "probably" remain out of service until May as Amtrak plans a "total reconstruction" of the three tracks. They will work on the tracks one at a time.

The service changes will impact Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road service in some way. The project will affect a total of five NJ Transit trains per day, two in the a.m. peak and three in the p.m. peak periods.

A majority of the work, slated to begin January 4, 2018, will occur on weekends, but some single track closures have to be made during the week. Just like the continuous repairs during the summer, the rush hour will be most affected. And just like during the summer, the MTA expects to divert some regularly scheduled trains to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Hunterspoint Avenue in Queens. More on that in the coming months.

Here's a list of changes for Amtrak service from January 4 to May 28:
- Amtrak is cancelling Northeast Regional Trains 110 from Washington, D.C. (WAS) to New York Penn Station (NYP) and 127 from NYP to WAS
- Northbound Keystone Train 640 will terminate at Newark Penn Station
- Southbound Keystone Train 643 will originate at Newark Penn Station
- Southbound Train 173 will stop at Newark Airport
- Southbound Trains 129, 193 and 653 will all have earlier departure times.
- Train 170 will also depart WAS early, stop at North Philadelphia and Cornwells Heights and resume its schedule from Trenton

NJ Transit announced the following changes from January 8 through May 28:

--NJCL train 3216, the 6:11 a.m. eastbound Long Branch departure, will now depart at 6:23 a.m. and will be diverted to Hoboken renumbered as 2604
--NEC train 3122, the 7:06 a.m. eastbound departure from New Brunswick will terminate at Newark Penn Station renumbered as 5822.
--NJCL train 3267, the 5:25 p.m. departure from PSNY, will originate from Hoboken at 5:22 p.m. renumbered as 2609
--NEC train 3171, the 5:43 p.m. departure from PSNY, will originate at Newark Penn Station at 6:03 p.m. renumbered as 5869
--NJCL train 3441, the 6:51 p.m. departure from PSNY, will be canceled

Customers are advised that trains prior to or following the affected trains may experience crowded conditions. Customers with flexibility in their travel may consider the following alternate options:

--NJCL customers may consider utilizing private bus carriers such as Academy Bus from locations including the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel
--NJCL customers may also consider ferry service from Monmouth County including NY Waterway's ferry from Belford or Seastreak ferry from Highlands or Atlantic Highlands
--NEC customers may consider private bus carriers including Suburban Transit/Coach USA bus from points in Mercer and Middlesex counties
--Customers may also utilize NJ TRANSIT bus service on the Route 9 corridor

The Long Island Rail Road is also expected to announce service schedule adjustments.

An MTA spokesman said the changes will be nowhere near the summer disruptions for the LIRR -- and "we're currently negotiating with Amtrak to ensure the minimal impact to our customers as possible - but we expect no more than a few trains will be involved."

Work in the area of Track 15 involves the demolition and replacement of a section of concrete (similar to the work done on Track 10 over the summer) and Track 18's work involves concrete demolition and replacement, steel replacement and rail renewal.

The winter projects are part of the Infrastructure Renewal program.

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