NJ Transit posts schedules for 'summer of hell'

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Transit released schedule changes Friday to accommodate this summer's extensive repair work at New York's Penn Station that is aimed at replacing aging parts and equipment that contributed to two recent derailments and numerous other failures.

Commuters from towns due west of Manhattan, as far as Hackettstown, will bear most of the pain. Rail lines serving those areas will be diverted to Hoboken, where commuters will transfer to New York Waterway ferries or trains operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

There is an exception: Four trains on the Morristown Line originating in Hackettstown that arrive in New York before 7 a.m. will be spared the Hoboken diversion. Trains that normally would arrive in New York after 7 a.m. will be diverted.

NJ Transit's other lines mostly were spared. The Northeast Corridor Line from Trenton to Manhattan, the most heavily traveled line, and the North Jersey Coast Line will have minor time changes, though NJCL trains that normally would go to Hoboken will terminate at Newark, where commuters will have to switch to a train to Secaucus and then to Hoboken.

The changes will be in effect on weekdays from July 10 to September 1.

New York Waterway will offer ferry service from Hoboken to midtown Manhattan in addition to its regular service to lower Manhattan.

Amtrak opted to accelerate its scheduled repair work at Penn Station, initially to be performed over a few years, after two recent derailments and other breakdowns. Delays at Penn Station affect rail service up and down the corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C.

Three of the station's 21 tracks will be shut down at a time as work is done on rails and track switches, the points where trains entering and leaving the station are routed to different tracks.

NJ Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro said last week it was decided to divert western-originating trains to Hoboken rather than divert Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line trains at Newark to avoid overcrowding at Newark, which also is the terminus for the Raritan Valley Line and for customers on the Port Authority Trans-Hudson line.

PATH, operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, expects to handle roughly 7,000 more passengers at Hoboken in both the morning and afternoon peak periods, and plans to add cars to its trains to accommodate.

New York Waterway, a private ferry company, has about 9,000 seats available on its boats from Hoboken to two downtown Manhattan locations during peak periods, company Chairman Armand Pohan said last week.

Printable schedules will be available Friday at www.njtransit.com/theupdate .