Nobody likes it when the way they get to work is under repair. They like it even less when it takes longer than they anticipated, and communication isn’t what it could be. The past week has been a long one for rail commuters in NYC, as Amtrak officials conducted repair work on track damaged by a derailment. And this work reflected why delays in one area of a rail line can create a cascade of frustration for commuters at many different other stops along the track. The past few days were very frustrating for commuters who were not able to use certain trains because of damage to the track after a recent derailment. Then, when the work had been completed, and travelers had been assured their normal commute would be back to normal, someone else said, “not so fast.”
While Amtrak cleared the repairs and said the trains could once again get rolling, NJ Transit was quick to say there was still work that needed to be done and … “delays were possible…”
That left countless commuters stranded as ten rush-hour trains headed into Manhattan were canceled, and four stations in Queens were shut down. As you might imagine, the reaction was not exactly favorable. Long Island Rail Road representatives quickly pointed fingers of blame right back at Amtrak: “Because Amtrak crews did not finish track repair work by 4 a.m. as promised and because they did not grant access to tracks overnight so that Long Island Rail Road could pre-position trains, LIRR is forced to once again operate a reduced morning rush-hour schedule…”
Others simply tried to explain what went wrong. The delays were initially blamed on timber ties under the track in Penn Station. The timbers weakened, causing problems and leading to tracks being shut down and trains being stopped until repairs could be made. This was the second derailment in a little over a month affecting trains coming in and out of Penn Station. While this incident closed 8 of the 21 tracks under the control of Amtrak, the March 24 incident actually caused two trains to scrape against each other. While there were no serious injuries in this incident, several riders immediately took to social media about the incident.
And, now that there have been multiple incidents, the daily commute, which is such a ‘normal’ part of life for countless New Yorkers, is becoming something to worry about. People are beginning to express doubts about Amtrak’s aging tracks and trains, complaining about the organization’s apparent lack of action to properly maintain the systems millions depend on just to get back and forth to work.