Amtrak advances North River Tunnel remediation work by leveraging existing maintenance windows

May 13, 2022
Crews from the passenger railroad worked during previously scheduled track outages to make improvements to the North River Tunnel.

Amtrak crews took full advantage of previously scheduled maintenance windows to advance work associated with its North River Tunnel Interim Reliability Improvement program this past March. The work performed in the South Tube of the North River Tunnel remediated damage to the tube’s benchwall system. The railroad says performing the work while when crews were scheduled to replace switches near New York Penn Station limited impact of the work on customers and train movements.

The North River Tunnel Interim Reliability Improvement program is a $150 million investment to keep the tunnel operational and safe until a new Hudson River Tunnel project can be delivered as part of the Gateway Program. The improvements include a series of work packages that can be undertaken during existing maintenance windows to target the most problematic sources of train delays and infrastructure failures.

“The Federal Railroad Administration is proud of our investments to improve the reliability of the North River Tunnel, knowing its safety and dependability is a necessity for the many Americans traveling the Northeast Corridor,” FRA Deputy Administrator Jennifer Mitchell said. “FRA is committed to working with our modal partners within the [U.S.] Department of Transportation and with Amtrak and other stakeholders to advance long-term rail infrastructure needs in the region.”

For this project, Amtrak says the more invasive work for the remediation project took place over a 55-hour weekend outage where crews jackhammered away loose and unstable concrete from the walking surface, poured and set fresh concrete and retrofit a below-surface splicing chamber into which crews must climb to repair damaged sections of the 12,000-volt feeder cables that run through the tunnel’s benchwalls.

Workers have also been injecting grout into the tunnel’s concrete liner to redirect infiltrating ground water and minimize the frequency of infrastructure failures like signal problems and poor track conditions. In 2021, crews took advantage of at least two 55-hour weekend outages when tracks were removed to clean the drain system beneath the trackbed.

Amtrak explains future phases of work involve digital scanning of the trackbed and enhanced asset monitoring, which will allow crews to respond more quickly and strategically when problems arise.

“These interim improvements are critical to ensuring the continued safety and reliability of the North River Tunnel and improving our customers’ travel experience in and out of New York City with minimal inconvenience,” said Laura Mason, EVP of Capital Delivery. “With such limited windows to perform maintenance without reducing service, we must take advantage of every opportunity to do so when we can and due to the great work of our employees, we were able to act.”

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Sept. 30, 2011