Amtrak says direct service to New York will partially return on Thursday

A westbound Amtrak train waits at the platform Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023, at the Joseph L. Bruno Railroad Station in Rensselaer, New York.Will Waldron/Times Union

RENSSELAER — Service on the direct Amtrak line between Albany and New York City is expected to be partially restored Thursday morning and fully restored Friday, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Partial service, New York Mayor Eric Adams told reporters Tuesday He could be back by Thursday It was fully restored by Friday. Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams confirmed the information Tuesday afternoon, saying one of the two routes will resume service first before the second route resumes on Friday.

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Live service has been suspended since Sunday due to structural issues at a building near the tracks in New York City. Passenger rail service initially provided little clue as to when it would be restored.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she was “outraged” that the service that thousands of New Yorkers use to commute and travel long distances would be suspended for an extended period. “While we know it can be difficult to repair aging infrastructure, a delay of this length is unacceptable,” the statement read.

Hochul said she would send senior state leaders, including from the state Department of Transportation, to join New York City and Amtrak officials to visit the problematic site “and determine a path forward.”

Alexandra McCants, 37, a Guilderland resident who travels twice a week to New York City for work, was one of many travelers who took Amtrak to the Croton-Harmon station and then transferred to Metro-North — or did the opposite to return from New York. But some Amtrak trains from the Westchester County station to Albany were canceled Tuesday, according to an online Amtrak schedule.

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“It wasn’t a major inconvenience, but the challenge was that we didn’t report early,” she said.

Diamond Owens, 20, was traveling from Rensselaer to North Carolina to see her family this week when her train was canceled Monday. Her flight was now delayed by two days and she had to cancel her hotel reservation.

“I feel like I should get compensation for at least one day of travel,” Owens said.

Abrams previously said the company was focused on “correcting this as quickly as possible.” He said Amtrak has been in regular contact with the New York City Department of Buildings, which on Friday discovered damage to a Manhattan parking garage located above the Amtrak tracks.

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“Safety is of the utmost importance,” Abrams said.

Amtrak said the temporary suspension arose due to “safety concerns resulting from structural issues at a privately owned, non-Amtrak building atop the Empire Line Tracks in New York City.” An Amtrak spokesman said the building is a parking garage on West 51st Street in Manhattan.

The service serves as an important transportation link between the metropolitan area and New York. The state Department of Transportation reported that 1.3 million passengers used the service in 2018-19.

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NBC 4 in New York The garage owner reported calling an engineer Friday about a hole in the parking garage entrance ramp, according to a Department of Buildings spokesperson. Multiple city agencies inspected the garage, “and also found cracked and deteriorating steel,” the station reported.

An evacuation order was issued by the Department of Buildings and NBC reported that Amtrak plans to install overhead protection over the tracks to keep operations running normally. It was not clear Tuesday whether Amtrak had done that work.

By Sunday, more cracks and deterioration were found in the garage and Empire Line service was suspended for fear that trains would be endangered by the damage, the station reported.

McCants recommended passengers arrive at the station early, since the multi-trip cards used on regular trips are often closed at certain stations.

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“The good thing is that the majority of people who travel have mixed schedules,” she said. “So we have a little flexibility.”

Amtrak said customers with reservations on trains that are being modified will be accommodated on trains with similar departure times or on another day. Amtrak will waive the surcharge for customers looking to change their reservation during the revised schedule by calling the Reservation Center at 1-800-USA-RAIL.

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