July 2014 Union Strike

A tentative deal between the MTA and LIRR Unions to avert a July Strike has been reached. See this post for more information.

Sunday, January 19

NY Penn, Track by Track: Tracks 15-16 (The Utility Platform)

Over the course of this week I'll finish up the remaining bunches of platforms.  All of the remaining platforms are fairly distinct in their own ways, so I'll probably take them all individually and go from there.

Today, we turn to look at platform H, tracks 15 and 16.  This platform has the unique distinction of being one of the most versatile in the station.  This platform, along with platform G to some extent, can accommodate almost any type of train that arrives at NYP.  While most tracks can handle most trains, there are little caveats here and there that keep certain types of trains off certain tracks.

Platform H, however, is one of the two platforms that can reach all three major tunnel pairs.  A train departing from tracks 15 or 16 can reach East River Tunnels lines 1 & 2, lines 3 & 4, and the North River Tunnels, as well as the West Side Yard leads.  These trains cannot reach the Empire Tunnel, but we know how few platforms can do that.  Other than the Empire Tunnel, trains from platform H can reach the other four "exits" from Penn Station, and platform H is accessible from all but the NJTransit concourse at NY Penn.

In recent years, and for many years to come, tracks 15 and 16 often get extensive use overnights and on weekends thanks to their versatility.  As Amtrak makes upgrades to the East River Tunnels, periodic closures of one or more lines means that trains have to get shuffled around so they can still make it under the river.

When lines 1 and 2 are closed, Amtrak and NJTransit make heavy use of platform H since it is essentially the lowest platform they can use and still get up to lines 3 and 4.  Track 14 can be used for shorter trains, but due to the fact that they would have to take a crossover part of the way down the station platform to get up to lines 3 and 4, track 15 is operationally the practical lower boundary for lines 3 and 4.

Conversely, when lines 3 and 4 are closed, the LIRR makes heavy use of platform H since that is essentially the highest platform they can use and still get down to lines 1 and 2.  Similar to above, track 17 can also be used for shorter trains, but due to the fact that they would have to take a crossover part of the way down the station platform to get down to lines 1 and 2, track 16 is operationally the practical upper boundary for lines 1 and 2.

While trains from tracks 14 and 17 can reach the lines 3 & 4 and 1 & 2, respectively, they can only do so by using a portion of the platform.  Tracks 15 & 16 are the only full-length tracks that can still reach both tunnels, so when there are tunnel closures, these are the tracks that get most of the traffic while the work goes on.

Other than the fact that they are nice and central in terms of the East River Tunnels, these platforms are very similar to the others.  They are similar in length (13 cars) and width to many of the other platforms and the tracks are powered by both third rail and overhead wire so they can support all three railroads when the need arises.  So, to conclude, while platform H is just an ordinary platform during normal operations, when one or more of the East River Tunnels is closed for work, tracks 15 and 16 become very important and useful tracks as platform H is essentially the only full length platform that can reach both sets of East River Tunnels, and that is feature that is quite useful.

Jump to other posts about New York Penn Station's Tracks:
Tracks 1-4, Tracks 5-8, Tracks 9-14 Tracks 15-16, Tracks 17-19, Tracks 20-21

1 comment:

  1. So great that you have been posting these-- today, the 451 ronkonkoma train left from 16 (normally 13), and I spotted an Amtrack train leaving from 15 and a Jersey transit train on 14. Weird track day!


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