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Getting More Capacity from Penn Station New York

Someone mentioned it may be possible to squeeze extra capacity out of Penn Station. This is definitely the case, though it wont' be cheap. The information here is from the MTA Planning Committee Agenda of 9 July 1993.

New Jersey Transit can significantly tighten up their operations.


AM Peak                    LIRR    NJT/Amtk  
--------                   ----    --------
Passengers                  77%       22%
Revenue Train Arrivals      71%       29%
Platform Track Allocation   42%       58%

JOINT FACILITY AGREEMENT PROPERTY ZONES Tracks Quantity ------ -------- NJT/Amtk 1-12 12 Shared 13-16 4 (may be 12-17, diagram is fuzzy) LIRR 17-21 5
On the subject of tightening up NJ Transit/Amtrak track occupancy at Penn Station, here are their most egregious examples of slackdom in the between 7:30 and 9:00 am (approximately):
          TIME IN MINUTES 
               (Occ = Occupied by One Train.   Vac = Vacant)

          Occ   Vac   Occ   Vac   Occ
Track 1:         30    20    20    25
Track 2:  55     25
Track 3:  30     60   
Track 4:         15    70
Track 5:         60    15    3     30
On the other hand, the LIRR in this time frame is quite efficient. The longest a train sits in a slot is 15 minutes, though it's generally 5 to 10 minutes. Vacant slots usually last a few minutes, the longest being about 15 minutes.

The simplest capacity improvement is termed "5X Switch." Right now, the LIRR's J.D. Caemmerer West Side Yard is accessible from tracks 15 through 21, six platform tracks serving four platforms in all. This improvement would add a crossover between Tracks 6 and 5 of the X Tracks to the Hudson River Tunnel. This one simple switch ends up linking the ladder of the West Side Yard Lead and the ladder between Platform Track 2 and Track 5 of the X Tracks. The West Side Yard would then be accessible from all eleven platforms in Penn Station.

This increases capacity by allowing the LIRR to drop passengers and go directly to the West Side Yard, from any of its tracks. The improvement opens up three more tracks to such operation under the current Joint Use Agreement plus an additional seven tracks if a new agreement is worked out.

In addition, this flexibility will allow better use of the East River Tunnels. Let me give the background/layout info to frame the situation and then explain how this improvement can help operations. There are two tunnels with two tracks each. Line 1 is the southern most track and Line 4 is the northernmost. Right now, as far as the July 93 Planning Committee Agenda explains, these tunnel lines are run two in and two out. The southern lines in each tube, Lines 1 and 3, are outbound (eastbound) and the northern lines in each tube, Lines 2 and 4, are inbound. From my understanding, the all the lines are now reversed signaled.

                 Can Access     Amount of
Tube        Platform Tracks     Accessible Tracks
----        ---------------     ------------------
Southern       5 through 17       13
Northern      14 through 21        8
As mentioned earlier, only Tracks 15 through 21 are accessible to the West Side Yard at present. This means only Tracks 15 through 17 can be used for drop and go operations between the southern tunnel and the West Side Yard. The 5X Switch would open up all East River Tunnel tracks to drop and go (come and pick (?)) service. Hence, operating the East River Tunnels three tracks inbound in the morning peak will be much easier.

20 Sep 1995 andegold@aol.com (AndEGold) writes:

> While NJT does store many trains in the small yard on the 
> south side of the station aren't these only accessible to 
> tracks 1-4?  Aren't tracks 2-4 dead ends? 
Tracks 1-4 are dead ends. There are three yards in the southwest quadrant of the station, named A, D and E. A Yard is the furthest west and has five tracks, with Track 4 now used for the Empire Connection, and is accessible from Tracks 1 through 9. D Yard is on the way to A yard and is accessible from Tracks 1 through 7. This yard has 5 tracks, of which Tracks 1 and 2 serve the Diagonal Platform. E yard was accessible from Track 1 and D Yard. From what I can tell/remember, Yard E has been ripped out and its seven tracks were created to deal with mail service on the Diagonal Platform.

This was written by Daniel Convissor as a posting to misc.transport.urban- transit on 29 November 1994 and updated on 20 September 1995


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