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Commuters wait for track announcements at New York's Pennsylvania Station which began track repairs causing massive disruptions to commuters in New York City, U.S., July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid


By Barbara Goldberg and Gabriella Borter

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York commuters commenced a "summer of hell" on Monday, when track repairs at the nation's busiest rail hub caused rerouted trains, packed platforms and lengthy delays for tourists, financiers and the working class in the U.S. business capital.

State Governor Andrew Cuomo had predicted the partial shutdown at New York City's Pennsylvania Station would cause a "summer of hell" for the 600,000 who ride the train in and out Midtown Manhattan from the station beneath Madison Square Garden.

The national rail corporation Amtrak and regional commuter train operators New Jersey Transit Corp and the Long Island Rail Road all converge on Penn Station. All three cancelled some services, rerouted others, and warned travellers to expect delays throughout the duration of the repairs, which began Monday and are scheduled to be done Sept. 1.

"Welcome to hell," read the cover of Monday's New York Post.

The upgrades created disruptions that are expected to cost Manhattan employers about $14.5 million for each hour that commuters are delayed, according to an estimate by the Partnership for New York City. 

Rerouted trains dumped masses of passengers at transfer stations such as Hoboken, New Jersey, as many sought alternate routes into the city, including buses, ferries and cars.

"Compared to Europe, I feel like we're living in the third world," said Mark Van Wagner, an artist and art dealer who takes the Long Island Rail Road from Bellport, New York.


The commuter crunch highlights lagging investment in U.S. infrastructure, and especially in New York City, which is dependent on mass transit.

While getting into the city had already been problematic for those who live in the suburbs, many journeys were worsened by service interruptions in the city's creaky subway system.

As for the railways, some commuters said the tracks have been deteriorating for years, and blamed politicians and railroad administrators for failing to maintain them.

"This is negligence on their part. They just didn't bother to keep up their end of the bargain and keep this place in repair," said Brendan Delany, who commutes two hours each way from New Jersey to New York. "There's been plenty of advance notice but it still doesn't diminish the anger and frustration that people have felt here."

While congestion and delays were evident at some points, those on unaffected trains reported a relatively smooth way into the city. Some were pleased with the public awareness campaigns of the transit authorities.

"The plans we put into effect seemed to be working," New Jersey Transit spokesman Charles Ingoglia said. "And most importantly, our customers seemed to have done their homework and made their choices quickly this morning and got about their business."

At Hoboken station, transit workers bellowed instructions such as "tickets out!" and "this way to 39th street ferry!"

"At least it's summer," said Del Gales, 23, of Summit, New Jersey, a financial debt negotiator who estimated 40 minutes would be added to his commute each way. "You have to appreciate the small things."

(Additional reporting by Andrew Hofstetter; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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