NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that Amtrak should pay for changes the state must make to accommodate repairs this summer at Pennsylvania Station, the country’s busiest train hub.
Amtrak’s push to repair its Penn Station infrastructure from July 10 through Sept. 1 will take three key tracks out of service and disrupt commutes across the region, in particular from New Jersey and the city’s Long Island suburbs.
In response, commuter railroads NJ Transit and New York’s Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), which both rent track and station space from the national rail corporation, will have to cancel or reroute trains and otherwise come up with workarounds for displaced riders.
“We don’t have a full bill yet, but it’s going to be big,” Cuomo told television news channel NY1.
In a separate statement, Cuomo also urged the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which runs the LIRR and New York City’s subway system, to stop making rental payments to Amtrak for Penn Station.
He said he would “seek a state law” to stop the MTA’s board if it continued to make the payments, which total about $50 million annually.
“The funding that LIRR pays Amtrak for their proportional share of operating, maintenance and capital costs is required to keep the station operating reliably and safely into the future,” Amtrak said in a statement. “Withholding such investments will only mean less work accomplished and more delay and impacts for riders.”
After a NJ Transit train derailment in April - one of several this year that prompted Amtrak’s expedited repair program - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he ordered the state to halt payments to Amtrak.
The MTA, which also runs New York City’s subway system, is adding hundreds of new buses and making other changes to accommodate passengers on Long Island, while the state is speeding up bridge and tunnel projects in an effort to finish them before Amtrak’s repair program begins.
New Jersey’s alternate plans include fare cuts for displaced riders, through which the state could lose $15 million of revenue.
State officials there also say they may also seek reimbursement from Amtrak, including through possible legal action.
Reporting by Hilary Russ, editing by G Crosse