Transport in New York: On the Wrong Track
Local railways are in bad shape - threatening the regions economy.
On March 24th an Amtrak train derailed in New York's Penn station, hitting a regional commuter-line train.
The resulting delay affected 250,000 passengers on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and New Jersey Transit, commuter lines which share Amtrak's tunnels and tracks in and around Penn Station.
Ten days later another Amtrak train derailed, this time taking out a set of points and eight of Penn station's 21 tracks.
The delays and cancellations lasted a week.
Then on April 14th, just as the Easter weekend began, a New Jersey Transit train got stuck for three hours in an approach tunnel.
This caused long delays on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) the busiest passenger railway line in the country.
On the same day a false report of gunfire at Penn triggered a stampede in which 16 were hurt.
New York's tabloids now call America's dingy, claustrophobic and busiest railway terminus “Pain Station”.
The station's 600,000 daily users will soon feel more pain.
Amtrak, which owns and operates the station, tracks and tunnels, said last month that it will need to shut down tracks to do repairs.
These will take place over 44 days, mainly weekdays, in the summer.
The Partnership for New York City, which represents large companies, estimates that every hour of delay to commuters from Long Island and New Jersey costs Manhattan employers $14.5m.
The Northeast Corridor Commission, created by Congress, estimates that every day the NEC is out of service costs $100m in lost economic activity.
Yet repairs are badly needed.
The two tunnels under the Hudson river, which serve the station and the main NEC arteries, are a century old and move with the tides.