The Horror That Came To Penn Station.

The terror that permeates this sentence — “New York metro area riders are bracing for eight weeks of gnarly commutes this summer because of a $40 million Amtrak project to upgrade track switches in Penn Station, which will shut three tracks at a time” — is easy enough to explain. After all, the average person is easily able to comprehend the concept that shutting down tracks in a busy rail station is going to cause, as they say, confusion and delay.  Everybody’s been in a traffic jam, right?

It is, however, difficult to vicariously experience if you’ve never used Penn Station as part of your commute. Penn Station is a over-complex (by necessity) organic machine that has to somehow untangle hundreds of thousands of individual commutes daily. And it does!  But they don’t have three tracks to spare.  Penn Station never does.  So it’s going to be a constant threat of Old Night and Chaos there for the next two months, and I’m shivering at the thought despite the fact that my commute these days mostly involves me going down the stairs to the living room.

Moe Lane

PS: Mind you, as that second link shows they make sure that you don’t do dispatch for Penn Station unless you have ice water in your veins. And, admittedly, it’s fun work (my dad worked for the Staten Island railroad, and visiting the dispatcher’s board was always the highlight of a visit to his job). But they’re gonna get stretched this summer.

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