Cuomo, Christie want private operator to run Penn Station

NEW YORK (AP) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are calling for a private operator to take over New York's troubled Penn Station, the nation's busiest rail station.

They said in a letter to Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman on Thursday "the situation at Penn Station has gone from bad to worse to intolerable" and "drastic action must be taken."

The governors say long-term changes in management must go hand in hand with "intense and immediate repairs." They also want the right to approve any private contractor selected by Amtrak, which owns and operates Penn Station.

Recent derailments and other problems at Penn Station have pushed Amtrak to begin replacing aging tracks and other equipment at the station, a critical part of Northeast Corridor travel.

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The text of the letter:

"The situation at Penn Station has gone from bad to worse to intolerable. Every commuter in the New York/New Jersey area agrees with us that drastic action must be taken to immediately remedy the situation. The time, energy, and suffering of our commuters in both states require nothing less.

"Decades of underinvestment by Amtrak have produced the continuing string of infrastructure failures at Penn Station. This is particularly unacceptable given the enormous payments made by our states to Amtrak to assure the state of good repair of Penn Station.  It now will require drastic and continuous improvement of these conditions by real experts over a sustained period of time to have the effect of improving commuting conditions for our citizens.

"Intense and immediate repairs are clearly necessary but they are not enough: longer term changes in the management of these assets must go hand in glove with the emergency repairs.

"Between New York and New Jersey we pay approximately $150 million a year for our respective use for the facility. As Amtrak's management of Penn Station continues to produce multiple failures, we believe systemic changes cannot wait.  A professional, qualified, private station operator must be brought in to take over the repairs and manage this entire process going forward.

"We must have the right to approve any private contractor that Amtrak selects in response to our request and the record of failure causing these problems at Penn Station. The current situation is not tolerable and change cannot wait any longer."

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