More problems at “Pain” Station New York

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
article amtrak 6 0706

On July 6, four days before major track refurbishment work begins at Pennsylvania Station New York, the nation’s busiest passenger rail facility, yet another incident—the third in four months—occurred when inbound New Jersey Transit North Jersey Coast Line train no. 3276 derailed as it was entering the station’s complex interlocking plant.

3276, a nine-car single-level local that originated in Long Branch, N.J., was carrying 180 passengers. The derailment occurred at 9:10 p.m. One car left the rails at low speed, NJ Transit spokeswoman Lisa Torbic said. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Passengers were stuck on the derailed train for about two hours before a rescue train was able to connect with it.

article amtrak 6 0706NJT and Amtrak temporarily suspended operations; NJT rerouted Penn Station-bound Midtown Direct trains to Hoboken Terminal. By Friday morning (July 7) normal service had been restored, albeit with delays of up to 90 minutes.

The July 6 derailment followed two others at PSNY. The first occurred on March 24, when an Amtrak Acela Express train derailed and sideswiped an NJT train. The second occurred on April 3, affecting an NJT train. That incident prompted the closing of eight of the station’s 21 tracks over a four-day period and caused major disruptions for hundreds of thousands of passengers.

After the April 3 derailment, Amtrak imposed a 10-mph civil speed restriction for trains operating within the PSNY interlocking plant, down from 15, contributing to ongoing delays. On July 2, after repairs and inspections were completed, the limit was restored to 15 mph.

Beginning July 10, Amtrak, which owns and operates NYPS, will spend eight weeks making extensive repairs to the western side of the station’s complex interlocking plant (between the two Hudson River tunnels and the platform tracks). NJT, Amtrak and MTA Long Island Rail Road, with the cooperation of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PATH trains), MTA New York City Transit and New York Ferry (previously New York Waterway), are implementing a contigency plan to handle the disruptions.

PSNY’s travails are the subject of intense local media coverage. NBC 4 New York / WNBC, the NBC network’s flagship station, has coined the name Train Pain (sort of like CNN’s War in the Gulf moniker during its coverage of the first Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s) for an ongoing series of special reports.

On Monday evening, July 10, Train Pain will be the subject of a special live broadcast airing at 7:00 p.m. EDT and streamed live at Since July 6, commuters have been able submit questions in advance via; the station’s Facebook ( and Twitter (@nbcnewyork) pages; and NBC 4 New York’s news tip hotline, 866-NEWS-244 (866-639-7244).

“NBC 4 New York / WNBC will answer commuters’ questions and provide important travel information during a special live broadcast of Train Pain,” said WNBC. “The special broadcast continues the station’s multi-platform commuter awareness efforts.”

“We know that viewers have many questions related to their daily commutes,” said NBC 4 New York Vice President – News Susan Sullivan. “Our special Train Pain broadcast will answer these questions, providing important travel information that will keep our viewers safe, informed and on-the-go.”

Moderated by NBC 4 New York News Anchors David Ushery, Stefan Holt and Natalie Pasquarella, the program “will examine the first day of track closures at Penn Station New York and outline service changes for commuters,” WNBC said. “The broadcast will also feature questions selected from NBC 4 New York viewers. Our I-Team has conducted numerous investigations on the challenges sustained by commuters in recent weeks, often taking the concerns of viewers directly to the leaders of several local transit agencies.”

NBC 4 New York has invited the chief executives of Amtrak, New York MTA, NJ Transit, the Port Authority and New York Ferry to participate in the broadcast. “They have been offered the chance to discuss their agency’s summer contingency plans and answer questions directly from their customers, many of whom have already submitted their stories on Twitter using the hashtag #TrainPain4NY,” WNBC said.

Public television is also getting into the act. WNET, parent company of New York PBS stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of New Jersey’s Public Television Network, NJTV, has launched #DaysofDelays, described as “a new multi-platform transit initiative addressing significant transit delays this summer [that] will provide commuters throughout the tri-state area with support and resources during the anticipated 44-day service interruptions.”

The #DaysofDelays website ( “will provide various resources and a space for viewers to contribute their personal stories as they embark on extended commutes,” said WNET sopokeperson Lindsey Horvitz. “The page will provide tri-state-area weather and traffic reports, a Twitter feed of transit updates and quick links to official transit websites. The site will also host a commuter survey to aid in the development of an unofficial ‘commuter index.’ Curated ‘survival kits’ that contain infographics, an array of transit options, scheduling information, passenger bills of rights and ticket reimbursement policies, as well as Spotify playlists from on-air talent, will also live on the site.”

The initiative will also be featured in regular segments from nightly news programs NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus. Additionally, #DaysofDelays will incorporate social media events including Midday with Mike, a daily hard hat tour on Facebook Live with a representative from Amtrak. The event will outline different aspects of the construction work, updates on the progress and opportunities for people to ask questions.














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