Amtrak Service from Penn Station to Albany Restored, Crumbling Garage Repairs Underway

Service north from Penn Station was halted Nov. 12 due to structural issues at a parking garage on W. 51st over its tracks. The shutdown angered Governor Hochul before Amtrak service was restored on Nov. 16.

| 16 Nov 2023 | 11:27

The days-long shut down of Amtrak service from Penn Station to Albany due to structural damage at a crumbling Ion parking garage on W. 51st St. had drawn the ire of Governor Kathy Hochul before service was finally restored on Nov. 16.

On the second day of the shut down, Hochul had issued a blistering statement saying she was “outraged” that the shut down could theaten travel in the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

“Thousands of New Yorkers rely on Amtrak service for their daily commute or long-distance travel,” said Hochul. “I’m outraged that service between Albany and New York City has been suspended for so long, especially as we approach some of the busiest travel days of the year during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. While we know it can be difficult to repair aging infrastructure, a delay of this length is unacceptable.”

She dispatched a contingent of state officials from the Department of Transportation, Division of Homeland Security Services and Emergency Services, and the Director of State Operations and Infrastructure, to join New York City and Amtrak officials for a visit to the site on Nov. 14.

Partial service with delays was restored on Nov. 16 with full service expected to be restored Nov. 18.

The chain of events started Nov. 10th with structural issues at the Hudson View Terrace garage on West 51st Street. Over 100 cars stored there were unable to move out.

Two days after the city’s Department of Buildings had ordered the shut down of the garage when holes were discovered in its concrete ramps, Amtrak workers were trying to shore up protection to prevent any part of the garage from falling to the tracks, they discovered more issues regarding steel support beams and promptly suspended service from Penn Station to Albany.

Amtrak’s Empire Connection line from West 34th Street to the Harlem River, sits right under the cited unsafe garage,

That meant for passengers, whether you were going to Rhinecliff or Chicago, you needed to travel on Metro-North commuter trains to Croton-Harmon station in Westchester County, and change there.

State officials who huddled with NY City and Amtrak officials on Nov. 14 cobbled together a working plan to reinstate through Amtrak Service

Amtrak announced that one of the two tracks under the garage would be working on Nov. 16th with the other track in service by Nov. 18, restoring full service once again. In the meantime, on Nov. 16 and 17, trains will be subject to slight delays, running on only one track. During the week, there are two dozen trains that use these tracks.

And the cars trapped in the garage over the tracks? The New York City Department of Buildings indicated that said the garage’s property owners’ contractors and engineering experts expect that the cars may be able to be removed by early in the week of Nov. 17th.

“My administration will always be involved to push forward to make sure that service is always restored,” Hochul said in announcing the resumption of service.

Could Amtrak Return to Grand Central?

During the so-called “Summer of Hell” during platform reconstruction at Penn Station in 2017, Amtrak trains were diverted to Grand Central Terminal during this process.

It was the first time that there had been Amtrak trains at the Terminal in 26 years.

In 2018, reconstruction of the bridge that links the Empire Service line over the Harlem River saw Albany-Rensselaer trains back at Grand Central over the summer of 2018. For the first time since the late Nineteenth Century, there was no through train between New York and Chicago; the full train was rerouted from Boston through Albany.

Should the garage repairs taken longer, it’s conceivable that Amtrak would again have used the East Side station.