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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak to reopen three storm-damaged tunnels by late Friday


Amtrak plans to reopen by late Friday three tunnels that provide access to and from Penn Station New York (PSNY) that were significantly flooded and damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

All Amtrak PSNY tunnels then will be in operation, which will allow for expanded Amtrak and commuter-rail service north, south and west of New York City.

"The return of all tunnel access to New York City will be a major milestone in the continued restoration of Amtrak and commuter-rail service and for the larger recovery efforts of the Northeast region," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman in a prepared statement.

Two of the tunnels are located under the East River and will support more Northeast Corridor service north of New York, and Empire Service and other trains that operate to and from Albany, N.Y., and points farther west. When those tunnels reopen, they will  operate at 80 percent capacity, or at a peak level of 32 trains per hour, as repairs continue. Two other East River tunnels that weren't flooded are running at 100 percent capacity, or a peak level of 40 trains per hour, Amtrak officials said.

The third tunnel to reopen is located under the Hudson River and will allow for expanded Amtrak and New Jersey Transit commuter-rail service south of New York. In combination with the South Tube that reopened Oct. 31, the two Hudson River tunnels will operate at 63 percent capacity, or a peak of 24 trains per hour, while repairs continue. A normal peak is about 38 trains per hour.

Efforts to increase capacity even more through the Hudson River are limited by flooding damage at a key electrical substation near Kearny, N.J. On Tuesday, Amtrak and Army Corps of Engineers controlled the flooding and de-watered the facility. The equipment is undergoing cleaning and testing to determine the extent of the damage before repairs begin, Amtrak officials said.

Last week's storm flooded four of six 102-year-old tunnels under the Hudson and East rivers for the first time in the tunnels' history, they said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/8/2012