Modified rail service continues after Penn Station derailment

NEW YORK (AP) — Rail officials offered no estimate Tuesday for when full service would be restored at Penn Station a day after a second derailment in less than two weeks wreaked havoc for hundreds of thousands of commuters and long-distance travelers up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

Amtrak and New Jersey Transit officials said crews were working around the clock to repair the damage from Monday's derailment. Three cars in the middle of an inbound NJ Transit train dislodged from a track as it approached a platform.

NJ Transit: Operating on a modified holiday schedule with delays. Cross-honoring remains in effect with NJ Transit Bus, private carriers, NY Waterway, and the PATH Train. Click for more information.

LIRR: Commuters should anticipate various delays and cancellations from Penn Station during this evening's rush hour between 4PM and 8PM. Westbound service will be suspended from Jamaica to Penn as of 4PM and from Woodside to Penn between 6PM and 8PM. NYCT will cross-honor westbound LIRR tickets. Click for more information.

Amtrak: Operating on a modified schedule on the Northeast Corridor. Customers should expect delays in and out of Penn Station up to 60 minutes during rush hours. Click for more information.

The derailment damaged the track and a switch and knocked out service on eight of 21 tracks, said Scot Naparstek, chief operating officer of Amtrak. The train was moved back onto the rail early Tuesday, he said.

Naparstek didn't speculate on what might have caused the derailment. He said because of the location and the track components involved, it was not believed to be related to a March 24 incident in which an outbound Amtrak train derailed at Penn Station and scraped up against an inbound NJ Transit train. No serious injuries were reported in either derailment.

Naparstek didn't offer a guess on when all 21 tracks would be operational.

"It is our plan to have service restored as quickly as possible," Naparstek said. "I cannot tell you when that is as of now. Any estimate I would have is premature and is likely to be wrong until I have more information."

It's estimated that about 750,000 people ride trains between Washington, D.C., and Boston daily, either on Amtrak or on various commuter rail lines.

NJ Transit is operating on a limited schedule it normally uses on holidays, Executive Director Steve Santoro said. That has caused delays and frustration for the estimated 100,000 people who ride into New York each weekday. The Long Island Rail Road canceled 10 trains to Penn Station Tuesday morning and terminated four others at Jamaica in Queens.

The two derailments at Penn Station renewed calls for accelerating progress on an ambitious, $20 billion-plus project, known as Gateway, to add a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and expand Penn Station. The current tunnel is more than 100 years old and operates at capacity during peak commuting hours.

The cost of the tunnel, estimated at roughly $10 billion, is to be split between New York, New Jersey and the federal government, but supporters fear President Donald Trump's budget released last month could jeopardize the federal slice of the project by proposing to pay only for projects that have advanced to the final contract stage.

John Porcari, a former deputy U.S. secretary of transportation who is the interim head of the development corporation overseeing Gateway, said Tuesday that a new tunnel wouldn't have stopped the two recent derailments from happening. It would, he said, lessen the aftershock to commuters because the eight tracks currently out of service would have been able to connect to the new tunnel.

"It would have been a minor blip instead of a major nightmare for commuters," he said.