Rail News

Limited Service for Amtrak Along Northeast Corridor After Hurricane Sandy

Amtrak announced earlier today that it hoped to resume a limited schedule of trains later tonight between New York’s Penn Station, Trenton, New Jersey and Philadelphia just four days after the Atlantic super-storm Sandy forced suspension of service along the US passenger railroad’s Northeast Corridor.

It was also announced that they (Amtrak) are to resume limited service between New York and Boston as part of the Northeast Regional service along with some Acela Express service’s which hasn’t operated since the storm hit.

New Jersey Transit Disabled by Flooding-related Electrical Failures

New Jersey Transit, which has been disabled by flooding-related electrical failures, will struggle to offset the loss of rail service even with the limited number of trains to New York said Amtrak’s spokesman Steve Kulm. He went on to say “Even on a normal day, our trains couldn’t handle all of their passengers and our passengers. Whatever we provide tomorrow is going to be limited.”

Tunnels beneath the Hudson River carrying tracks connecting Penn Station with New Jersey and Northeast Corridor destinations to the south were heavily flooded in the storm. Amtrak pumped out one of the two tunnels earlier today but the second Hudson River tunnel and two of the four tunnels into New York from the north are still flooded. Kulm said “we have pumps working in all of them. There’ll be more service in the days ahead”.

Damaged Tracks North of New York

North of New York, a section of track is damaged causing further service obstacles for Amtrak. The tracks are controlled by the Metro-North commuter railroad with the damaged section of track between Spuyten Duyvil and Poughkeepsie. Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) which operates Metro-North confirmed it will take several days to repair the track for service to resume.

Amtrak relies on the track for its Empire service to Albany and other parts of upstate New York, as well as for the Maple Leaf to Toronto, the Ethan Allen to Vermont, the Adirondack to Montreal and the New York City branch of service on the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago.

Amtrak are not the only operator effected by Hurricane Sandy’s devastation; An agency spokeswoman for New Jersey Transit’s trains, Nancy Snyder, said their trains remain “suspended until further notice” due to the system’s rail operator’s centre being flooded causing damage to their computers, backup power supply and emergency generator which were used to control movement of trains and supply power.

Unlike Amtrak, the Newark-based operator has been effected by the damage done to overhead power lines from falling trees and wind, as New Jersey Transit’s trains run on electricity. They have also suffered from the local power outages which have prevented testing of crossing gates and operating signals. Furthermore, portions of North Jersey Coast Line track have been washed away and the Morgan Drawbridge in South Amboy was struck by boats and a trailer.

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