Amtrak has developed a plan to "vastly improve" the conditions of the East River Tunnels used by MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) trains that leave from or arrive at Penn Station, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced yesterday.
Schumer has been calling on Amtrak to improve the condition of the tunnels, which have been the source of delays for commuters. Amtrak owns the tunnels.
The plan includes replacing aging track, increasing tunnel inspection frequency, and implementing new protocols and software to detect, predict and respond more quickly to problems, Schumer said in a press release.
The plan focuses on three critical areas: an overhaul of the existing track inspection program; replacement of all the old "jointed rail" segments prone to failure; and implementation of a new "fix it first" policy that will prioritize upgrading all aspects of the aging infrastructure before it breaks down. The goal of this program is to bring the tunnel infrastructure into a state of good repair within the next 3-5 years, Schumer said.
"These tunnels are the weakest link in the commute of hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders, and by bringing them up to a state of good repair, we'll reduce the frequency of the maddening delays, reroutes and cancellations that currently happen far too often," Schumer said. "By committing to repairing and upgrading the tunnels, Amtrak is committing to improve the day-to-day life of almost anyone who rides the LIRR."
The senator also announced that he is recommending State Sen. Chuck Fischillo to be appointed to Amtrak's board to "look out for the needs of Long Islanders."
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