LIRR commuters need no reminder of the painful commutes they had to put up with for days to Amtrak’s recent derailment in one of the East River tunnels. All it did was highlight the sub par agreement between the LIRR & Amtrak in terms of control of operations.
One of the first to criticize Amtrak having complete control of Penn Station & its actual track facilities was MTA Board Member Mitchell Pally who lashed out & called the agreement “unacceptable”. We can now add a new person to the list of those who feels the agreement needs to be changed, State Senator of the 8th District Charles Fuschilo Jr. who penned an editorial for the LI Herald:
Following a number of significant Long Island Rail Road service disruptions and cancellations caused by Amtrak maintenance recently, I am calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to explore taking over maintenance of the rails in and out of Penn Station and the East River tunnels.
The MTA should re-evaluate its current operating agreement with Amtrak and see what steps can be taken to have the authority to maintain the rails in and out of Penn Station.
The LIRR and its riders have repeatedly been held hostage because of Amtrak’s maintenance practices. That is unacceptable. The recent Amtrak derailment, which resulted in significant cancellations and delays to LIRR riders, showed why the MTA/LIRR, not Amtrak, should maintain the rails in and out of Penn Station.
Amtrak currently owns and maintains Penn Station and the four East River tunnels. Amtrak’s ownership prevents the LIRR from overseeing maintenance operations on its tracks, even though the LIRR operates more than three times as many weekday trains as Amtrak. While the LIRR cooperates with Amtrak on some maintenance and repair projects, it ultimately has no authority over maintenance operations that directly affect LIRR service.
As I stated when Mr. Polly lashed out, I concur that the agreement should be changed as Amtrak’s track record of failure is too much to ignore. LIRR customers should not be held hostage by an agency that is the minority provider in terms of actual service out of the facility. Will the agreement be changed? Who knows, but it is clear that it should have been sometime ago.
xoxo Transit Blogger