Home Service Advisories Sandy Updates: Friday morning train service and news & notes

Sandy Updates: Friday morning train service and news & notes

by Benjamin Kabak

A little fish improves any signal system.

Currently, as Friday dawns and we enter Day 2 of abbreviated subway service, the bulk of Friday’s commute will be the same as Thursday’s. I have a random smattering of updates though that followed the Thursday evening press conference with Andrew Cuomo and Joe Lhota so let’s just dive in.


I outlined most of the subway service in this evening post, but there are a few key changes. First, 7 service actually came back shortly before 9 p.m. Second, 1 and 2 trains are running to 34th St.-Penn Station and not just Times Square. Third, there is no G train service because the tunnel under the Newtown Creek has flooded. It’s unclear when that IND Crosstown service will come back online. Fourth, the Brooklyn Bus Bridge will operate again on Friday. Fifth, the FASTRACK program, scheduled next week for the East Side IRT, has been canceled.

Meanwhile, at this point — and impressively enough — a good portion of subway service is simply awaiting action from Con Edison. The MTA has cleared out the Joralemon St. Tunnel for 4 and 5 train service and the Rutgers St. Tunnel for F train service. The tracks and signals have been inspected, and all that’s missing is power. Once ConEd has turned on the juice, the MTA needs two hours to run test trains and can then restore service. The same holds true for the BMT service across the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. As a reminder, all fares will be free on Friday.

Capital Projects: Second Ave. Subway, East Side Access, 7 Line

Somehow, amazingly enough, the MTA’s capital projects were spared damage from the storm. Early on Thursday, the MTA told me that the Second Ave. Subway, East Side Access project and 7 line extension were OK and spared any flooding, but that minimizes what happened. According to Ted Mann of The Wall Street Journal, East River floodwaters came within 20 feet of the Second Ave. Subway construction site at 96th St. Can you imagine if the renaissance of the Second Ave. Subway had been snuffed out by a historic hurricane? It’s almost fitting.

Metro-North, LIRR

Various services have been restored on the area’s commuter rails. The LIRR is offering hourly service to Penn Station along the Babylon and Huntington Branches in addition to services already in place. Metro-North is running trains between Croton-Harmon and Grand Central on the Hudson Line on a normal weekday schedule; between New Haven and Stamford/Grand Central by midday Friday; and between Southeast and Grand Central by the morning.

New Jersey Transit, PATH and Amtrak

New Jersey Transit is offering very limited service out of New York Penn Station on Friday. The full schedules can be found right here. Amtrak is running some modified service out of Penn Station as well on Friday but advises customers to call ahead. Finally, the PATH trains are still flooded for what Gov. Cuomo estimated was five miles out from the World Trade Center stop. PATH service has been suspended until further notice.

And that’s all she wrote tonight.

You may also like


Frank B November 2, 2012 - 1:24 am

That was completely silly; The Newtown Creek Tunnel should have been one of the first pumped; we could’ve provided more subway service all along Queens Boulevard via the G, moved subway trains; we could’ve even diverted full 10-car A or F trains up the IND Crosstown Line so people could’ve picked up service at Queensbridge-21st Street or Queensboro Plaza into the city.

Why would they pump out the East River Tunnels FIRST if there would be no power to even use the dried tunnels? Nonsense. Instead of shoving hoards of people onto shuttle buses, there was a more direct service to midtown(for some, anyway) via the working IND 63rd Street and BMT 60th Street Tunnels.

Walder, in my opinion, wouldn’t have made that mistake.

al November 2, 2012 - 1:56 am

Attempts to send G to Queens Blvd would pack any Manhattan bound train at Queens Plaza. Terminal capacity at 34th St on 8th Ave Lines is limited, and the A is using most of it up. What the MTA is currently running to Herald Sq on 6th Ave Lines (D,F,M) maxes out that terminal. 53rd St tunnel won’t be open until power is available to 2nd Ave and WTC, or Rutgers Tunnel or Cranberry Tunnel is open. They’re probably also trying to limit crowding on the Lex Ave trunk until the service gets back to full capacity.

Eric November 2, 2012 - 10:33 am

Trains are going to be packed no matter what you do. Pumping the Newtown Creek tunnel, aside from all the (correct) supposition above, would have given all the rolling stock on the Queens Blvd express tracks a route to get to Brooklyn. We could have had increased Queens Blvd service with the Crosstown getting people there.

al November 2, 2012 - 1:06 pm

There is the issue of dangerously crowded platforms. With The express out on the Lex Ave trunk, having people walk from 6th Ave stations to East Midtown is the better than cramming people onto the Lex local, until they can restore more relay locations downtown.

Eric November 2, 2012 - 1:36 pm

I’m not sure I understand… running trains over the Crosstown to Queens Plaza wouldn’t be putting more people on the Lexington Avenue local, because there still aren’t any trains running through the 53th Street tunnel. It would just be another way for Brooklynites to get to the city.

al November 2, 2012 - 5:20 pm

Pumping out the Newtown Creek Tunnel will not bring it back into service immediately. You would still need a few days to inspect for and fix any damage down there. I also wonder if the switches north of 21st St were flooded. They’re 25+ ft below street level and close to sea level. The Steinway and other East River tunnels have priority over the Newtown Creek.

If they started pumping on Tuesday after the tides came down, it wouldn’t had been emptied until early Thursday at earliest. Then the inspection and repairs commence. That would had required equipment and manpower from other tunnels. Those assets are not unlimited and we need them to clear the Steinway and some of the Lower Manhattan Tunnels so that its ready for Monday.

Due to fare cancellation, Queensboro Plaza and Queens Plaza have a free out of system transfer. That would pack the N and thus create dangerous condition on the Lex Ave Local at 59th st.

Marc Shepherd November 2, 2012 - 11:03 am

Joe Lhota doesn’t decide which tunnels to pump out, and Jay Walder wouldn’t have either. Those decisions are made by specialist engineer, not politicians or bureaucrats. This is no knock against either Walter or Lhota. It’s just not in their background to have that kind of expertise; their skill is in other spheres.

I’m not saying the engineers are right; only that if they are wrong, Walder wouldn’t have told them so. He wouldn’t have had a clue. But unless you’ve been in the field, then probably neither do you.

Nathanael November 2, 2012 - 2:14 pm

“Why would they pump out the East River Tunnels FIRST if there would be no power to even use the dried tunnels? ”

Because they designed their pumping plan before ConEd told them when power would be restored. Remember how long it took for ConEd to give a schedule on power restoration?

Larry Littlefield November 2, 2012 - 7:19 am

The power problem is disguising the real extent of the subway problem. Once the power is on, we’ll see what the actual subway problem is.

Nathanael November 2, 2012 - 2:08 pm

Very true.

It does sound like MTA has focused on de-flooding the 4/5 lines first, since they’ve said those lines are ready to go. The restoration there seems kind of amazing given that they were the worst flooded; but perhaps they were the focus of the “remove all electronics and take it into buildings” plan before the storm.

Once the power goes up, we’ll see the real state of the rest of the subways. Here’s hoping that another tunnel is cleared before then. 🙂

meera November 2, 2012 - 8:07 am

Ben, thanks for keeping on top of this.

Anybody know what’s up with the Brighton Line?

mike d. November 2, 2012 - 2:01 pm

trees and debris along tracks. it may have cause track and signal damage. lots of cleanup crew working around the clock.

DF November 2, 2012 - 8:19 am

Just noticed that Google Transit currently has the limited service map (the one put out for yesterday without e.g. the 7). If you click on a station it pops up the ordinary lines and schedule, but with an alert link to the MTA’s description of modified service. The map also has lines approximating the shuttle bus routes.

Eric F November 2, 2012 - 8:35 am

Great update on the capital projects. I was wondering about that. Wonderful news.

If you get any word on how extensive damage is to the new PATH station complex at ground zero, that would be good to know too. Those images of ground zero flooding were quite grim.

BoerumHillScott November 2, 2012 - 9:22 am

I saw pictures from late Tuesday that showed the PATH WTC platforms being dry, with water on the tracks.

I believe the Exchange place station and nearby junction is below the level of the WTC, so I assume they were underwater at that point.

Eric F November 2, 2012 - 9:38 am

Exchange Place is VERY deep. It may be one of the deepest passenger stations in the world. It’s right on the bank of the Hudson and it must be well over 100 feet underground. They’ll need a strong pump…

George November 2, 2012 - 2:15 pm

Not deep at all as there are many stations around the world 50-100 meters underground.

Eric F November 2, 2012 - 2:22 pm

According to wikipedia it’s 75 feet underground with 150 foot escalators to get people down there. There are stations 100 meters underground? That sounds awful.

Nathanael November 2, 2012 - 2:10 pm

Is there an update on the state of the Fulton St. Transit Center? If it was also spared from flooding, that will be good news. (Partly because it will allow people coming from Brooklyn on the 4/5 to transfer to nearly everything).

I notice that it is the project which is not mentioned in the list of “projects spared from the flooding”. So… was it spared?

Chris O'Leary November 2, 2012 - 8:44 am

Can someone explain to me the reasoning of the folks who built the Canarsie Line in the 1920s for the complete lack of switches on the line? I mean, the line goes 18 stops without a full bi-directional switch, which I imagine is the reason it can’t go beyond Broadway Junction (I assume the switch at Bedford is probably too close to the flooding).

Obviously they didn’t anticipate a weather event like this, but it’s also a huge inconvenience during service changes for maintenance, too.

Larry Littlefield November 2, 2012 - 10:56 am

The MTA has been taking out switches with each reconstruction, because interlockings cost money. But there is an interlocking at Myrtle Avenue, where the M is.

The BMT used to run “express” service by having a “local” leave from a pocket track there right after the “express” left. The “local” would make it to Bedford Avenue before next “express” caught up, so “local” and “express” service were run on one track.

Chris O'Leary November 2, 2012 - 12:00 pm

There is, but I don’t believe it’s bi-directional. Trains can short-turn at Myrtle from Manhattan, but not from Rockaway Parkway.

Larry Littlefield November 2, 2012 - 7:03 pm

Just checked the track map. Egad! You’re right.

The next interlocking is Bedford Ave. Why not Bedford?

Evan November 2, 2012 - 8:43 pm

What sense does that make?

Because it’s certainly biting them in the butt now.

Flatbush Depot November 2, 2012 - 9:46 am

Were the Joralemon and Rutgers tunnels inspected adequately? Does anybody know the full procedure and how long it took? Was there really nothing to replace after they were under all that water? Were the tunnel structures weakened by the flooding?

Nathanael November 2, 2012 - 2:11 pm

It would take a lot to weaken the iron-ring tunnel structure.

I strongly suspect that the electronics were REMOVED from the Joralemon St. tunnel before the flooding, and reinstalled afterwards, which would account for the fast recovery. I know MTA was doing this for *some* of the subways. But I don’t know *which ones*.

Flatbush Depot November 2, 2012 - 7:19 pm

Thanks. Just wanted to make sure they left no stone unturned in the safety department. They never leave a stone unturned in the safety department anyway

Todd November 2, 2012 - 10:16 am

Love the fish picture.

Is there an updated temporary map? I can’t tell you how helpful that has been for my co-workers. Most of them aren’t used to transit and having a map (vs the written service changes) has been really nice.

Kai B November 2, 2012 - 11:59 am

Generally the MTA has been good about keeping the map updated. It’s always the same URL:


Note that they wait until a service has officially resumed before adding it.

J B Taipei November 2, 2012 - 11:15 am

Does anyone suppose they’ll be able to run service to Bowling Green if power goes on south of the Brooklyn Bridge? Seems like it should be possible, given the switch north of there and that they say a lack of power is the only problem for Joralemon.

metsgl November 2, 2012 - 12:12 pm

Service will probably run through Bowling Green to Brooklyn. South Ferry, which is where Bowling Green bound trains turn around, is still flooded. That is probably why priority was given to the Joralemon tunnel.

J B Taipei November 2, 2012 - 12:28 pm

I meant from the other direction, from Brooklyn and terminating at Bowling Green, and short-turning at the switch between Bowling Green and Wall Street. This would ease the demand for crossing from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Presumably service between Wall Street and Grand Central isn’t possible with power still out in most of downtown.

mike d. November 2, 2012 - 2:03 pm

The timeline of restoration is Saturday. They are still working out with the power issues.


Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy