Amtrak Service May Not Be Restored For a Week: Experts
The Amtrak train derailment has not only left at least seven people dead and many more injured and missing, it’s also stifled travel for many businesspeople along the Northeast Corridor.
Here’s what we know: Amtrak has stopped service between Philadelphia and New York. It’s offering modified service between Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston.
To the businesspeople who rely on Amtrak everyday, the next week or so will be a logistical nightmare. Consider that there were 11.6 million passengers in the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington in fiscal year 2014, according to the New York Times. That’s more than one-third of the national total.
“Its like cutting off an artery to your heart,” said Carl Berkowitz, a transportation and traffic engineering expert with a Ph.D. in transportation planning and engineering from Polytechnic University.
Although the timeline for restoration is still hazy, Mayor Michael Nutter said “there’s no circumstance under which there would be any service through Philadelphia on this Amtrak line for the rest of this week.”
It’s likely to take a week until the wreckage is removed, the investigation is complete and the rail line can be up-and-running, said William Miller, an associate professor in the Dept. of Civil Engineering at Temple University. But that timeline could still change as the investigation continues.
“They don’t know what they don’t know yet,” said Miller, who called Northeast Corridor rail travel a “vital lifeline in the transportation system.”
That leaves people looking for other options. Greyhound has added 10 additional schedules between New York and Philadelphia, and six more between New York and Washington, D.C. Amtrak customers can trade their unused tickets for Greyhound tickets free of charge.
The BoltBus travels along the Northeast Corridor and is starting to fill up for the rest of the week. In fact, eight out of the 11 time slots from Washington, D.C to New York are already sold out for Thursday and seven out of 12 are sold out for Friday. Megabus seems to have plenty of seats available on both days.
It’s likely that Amtrak will restore service in stages, using switches to bring trains from one track to another. In the meantime, crews will likely be spending a lot of time fixing power lines — which is a slow, deliberate process.
“There’s a lot of high voltage there and a lot of energy being transferred,” said Berkowitz. “All these wires hanging over the tracks are not easy to repair because it has to be done manually with special equipment.”