Serious service disruptions may face rail commuters to New York in 2015
By Jacob Donnelly • Staff Writer • November 9, 2014
Four rail tunnels connecting New York to New Jersey will be taken out of service in a phased process for repairs, due to damage caused by saltwater from Hurricane Sandy, Amtrak said in a press release last month. At least four of the them may have to be taken out of service for a year because of weakened concrete and corroding cast iron and steel.
Weekend crews have been working on the tunnels since the storm in October 2012, but Amtrak engineers discovered the damage was worse than previously thought.
About 400,000 passengers who normally ride trains through the tunnels to work each weekday will now have to find a different transportation medium.
The lost capacity resulting from the two Hudson River and two East River tunnels being taken out of service could result in delays not only to New York commuters but also throughout the entire New Jersey Transit system and Amtrak’s East Coast operations, as delays on one part of the route reduce the number and timeliness of trains available throughout the entire system. Long Island Rail Road also uses these tunnels.
One of the tunnels under the East River is expected to close as early as late 2015, according to The New York Times.
Amtrak, which owns the tunnels, does not have a timetable for performing the repairs but is linking the repairs to the completion of the Gateway tunnel. The Gateway Program, proposed in 2011, has not yet been fully funded.
“The rehabilitation work for both damaged tubes of the Hudson River tunnel cannot reasonably begin until after the new Gateway Tunnel is built and operating,” Amtrak said in the statement. “This will allow rail traffic to shift to the new tunnel and avoid major service impacts.”