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LIRR unveils contingency plan for Amtrak strike


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LIRR unveils contingency plan for Amtrak strike


January 16, 2008


[float=right]34770127-16092857.jpg[/float]Faced with the possibility of a total shutdown of Penn Station if Amtrak workers strike on Jan. 30, Long Island Rail Road president Helena Williams unveiled a contingency plan on Wednesday -- one that involves forcing railroad customers onto subway trains in Brooklyn and Queens.


In an effort to avoid dangerous overcrowding at Jamaica Station in the event of a strike, LIRR customers headed to and from Manhattan would be asked to transfer to Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway trains at Woodside, Hunterspoint Avenue, Atlantic Avenue and Flushing-Shea Stadium, according to the plan.


The contingency plan would become necessary because Amtrak controls the East River Tunnels the LIRR uses to access Penn Station -- and Amtrak operates Penn, as well. Under an agreement reached in 1997, the LIRR might still be able to use the East River Tunnels in the event of a strike.


But this time a potential Amtrak strike would involve such a significant number of Amtrak union members that it would be impossible to operate Penn Station, Williams said.


There has never been a strike in the 36-year history of Amtrak, so no one could fully predict the potential impact.


But the LIRR moves 85,000 passengers through Penn Station during the morning rush hour alone -- and, if Penn is closed down, the LIRR cannot access its West Side Yard.


The railroad uses that yard to turn around trains west of Penn Station, and a strike would mean that LIRR would, on average, run 23 fewer trains during both the morning and evening rush hours.


It runs about 145 trains daily during each of those peak operational hours, Williams said.


Under the contingency plan, which involves railroad officials producing an as-of-yet unreleased emergency operating schedule, Williams said morning westbound rush-hour LIRR passengers would be given the option of catching trains that would provide access to specific subway-transfer stops.


In the evenings, eastbound commuters would be required to catch specific subway trains to a single station for access to trains on specific LIRR branches. For example, Williams said customers would have to take the No. 7 train to Hunterspoint Avenue -- then walk one block from the subway station to the LIRR terminal -- in order to catch a train on the Long Beach branch. Customers wanting to take a train on the Babylon branch or Oyster Bay branch would have to take the subway to Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue -- and then walk several blocks to Jamaica Station.


Any contingency plan would call for rolling out a special P train, as well -- a train that will run non-stop between Sutphin Boulevard and 34th Street-Herald Square in Manhattan.


The P train was originally created in the event of an Amtrak strike in 1992.


But, of course, since that strike never happened the train has never been in operation.


Amtrak workers have been without a contract since 2000.


But Williams said she is optimistic Amtrak will reach an agreement with its unions before the strike deadline.


Amtrak and union officials are returning to negotiating table Wednesday. Williams said she expect updates on the talks no later than Friday.


The LIRR plans to begin a public outreach campaign briefing its riders on the contingency plans next week if no agreement is reached by Amtrak.


Williams said that LIRR officials plan to continue tweaking the contingency plan "until we see ink on a piece of paper" between Amtrak and its unions.

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Something interesting. I see this strike happening so this plan better be full proof or the management of LIRR is going to bit in the @$$.


And come to think of it, its coming up right while the MTA has that G.O. for the (7) and thats going to make things extremely hellish for the MTA and people around the Woodside station.


Man, this is looking really bad. Just hope this strike doesn't happen.


I wonder whats NJT's plan especially for the NEC and NJCL.....

I have a pretty good idea of how they're gonna plan it out.

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