Amtrak will provide limited Acela Express and Northeast Regional service between Washington and Boston today, marking a partial restoration of Northeast Corridor service for the first time since Oct. 28, when Atlantic superstorm Sandy approached the U.S. East Coast.
Amtrak restored limited service from New York’s Penn Station to Washington, running eight trains between the two cities last night, according to Amtrak Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman. Service between New York and Boston will resume today.
Amtrak is negotiating with Via Rail Canada Inc. for extra equipment to boost service in New Jersey, where New Jersey Rail Co.’s train service has been suspended indefinitely because of storm damage, Boardman said in a briefing yesterday.
“We need to bring the East Coast back,” Boardman said. “We know that transportation is an integral part of that.”
Boardman said one rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River has been cleared of water, permitting the resumption of service south from New York. A second tunnel beneath the river may be pumped out this weekend, he said.
Three of four tunnels on the north side of New York are clear of water, Boardman said.
Amtrak doesn’t have enough equipment to offset the loss of rail service on New Jersey Transit, which has been disabled by flooding-related electrical failures, said Steve Kulm, a spokesman for Amtrak.
“Even on a normal day, our trains couldn’t handle all of their passengers and our passengers,” Kulm said yesterday.
New Jersey Transit’s trains remain “suspended until further notice,” said Nancy Snyder, an agency spokeswoman. The system’s rail operations center was flooded, damaging its computers, backup power supply and emergency generator. Operators used the center to control movement of trains and to supply power.
The Newark-based operator faces other problems Amtrak doesn’t have. Its trains are powered by electricity from overhead power lines, some of which were damaged by trees and wind. Local power outages prevented the testing of crossing gates and operating signals. Portions of North Jersey Coast Line track were washed away. The Morgan Drawbridge in South Amboy was struck by boats and a trailer.
Passengers for the resumed Amtrak service should make reservations or use the eTicketing option with their computers and smartphones before traveling to stations, the railroad said.
Amtrak still faces service obstacles on tracks north of New York controlled by the Metro-North commuter railroad.
A damaged section of track between Spuyten Duyvil and Poughkeepsie, north of the city, will take days to repair, according to Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates Metro-North.
Boardman said Amtrak doesn’t expect to offer service to Albany until at least tomorrow.
Amtrak uses the track for its Empire service to Albany and other parts of upstate New York, as well as for the Maple Leaf to Toronto, the Ethan Allen to Vermont, and the Adirondack to Montreal.