New Work Could Reduce Capacity of Trains Through Tunnel

26 Jul 2017 

A rail safety system intended to stop crashes like last year’s fatal accident at the Hoboken Terminal could also have another consequence: fewer trains will be able to go through the Hudson River tunnels into New York Penn Station.

Unlike the temporary service reductions commuters are experiencing this summer due to a track replacement project in Penn Station, the completion of Positive Train Control by December 2018 would permanently reduce the number of trains that can use the tunnels at peak times.

Steve Young, deputy general manager of Amtrak’s New York Division, said the new system will force trains to brake sooner from the 60 mph speed limit through the tunnels to the 15 mph limit in Penn Station.

That extra time adds up: Instead of the 24 or 25 trains in each direction per hour the tunnels currently handle, Young said, they will only have the capacity for 22 or 23.

Young wouldn’t predict whether Amtrak or NJ Transit would lose those slots, but he did say the rollout of the system on both railroads would have an impact on Penn Station operations.