Category Archives: AMTRAK

Governor Cuomo Announces Major Construction To Begin On New Grand Moynihan Train Hall

Albany, NY – August 17, 2017 – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of major construction of the Moynihan Train Hall, a world-class transportation hub for the 21st century. The Farley Building redevelopment into the Moynihan Train Hall will create a new 255,000-square-foot Train Hall for Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak passengers and increase total concourse floor space in the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex by more than 50 percent. The Farley Building will also house 700,000 square feet of new commercial, retail and dining space within the mixed-use facility and create an iconic civic space for Manhattan’s West Side.

“For decades, passengers were promised a world-class train hall worthy of New York – today, we are delivering on that promise and turning that dream into a reality,” said Governor Cuomo. “We are transforming the Farley Post Office into a state-of-the-art transit hub to get travelers where they need to go faster and more comfortably. With better access to trains and subways, vibrant retail and business opportunities and stunning architectural design, we are bringing Penn Station into the 21st century.”

The Governor also announced the completion of the first significant milestone in the construction of the transformative Penn-Farley Complex announced by the Governor in September 2016, as workers finished demolishing the former sorting room floor slab. This accomplishment – five months ahead of schedule – will enable Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska USA, the developer-builder team, to begin full construction of the train hall, including the one-acre skylight.

Since September 2016, significant progress has been made to prepare the James A. Farley Post Office building for this dramatic transformation. To date, Skanska has removed more than one acre of concrete and steel flooring to increase the vertical space underneath Moynihan Train Hall’s future skylight. This process entailed the demolition of 6,000 tons of concrete and the removal of approximately 800 tons of steel, as well as an additional 400 tons of hazardous materials. Skanska has also made significant progress in the interior demolition of all five floors of the Farley Building.

The Farley Building was designed by McKim, Mead and White as a sister to their masterpiece – the original Pennsylvania Station. Five decades after the loss of the original structure, the Moynihan Train Hall will once again provide New Yorkers a grand entrance in a McKim, Mead and White architectural marvel. The Farley Building’s train hall will bear the name of one of its great champions – the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The Farley Building’s Moynihan Train Hall will feature a new, spectacular 92-foot high skylight that will rest upon the building’s historic and architecturally-dramatic steel trusses. All LIRR and Amtrak trains will be served by the nine platforms and 17 tracks that will be accessible from the Train Hall, serviced by eleven escalators and seven elevators. The Train Hall will provide a direct connection to the Eighth Avenue Subway and create direct access to the train station from 9th Avenue for the first time, bringing unparalleled regional transportation options within convenient reach of the booming Hudson Yards and Far West Side areas.

In addition to the demolition and removal of existing materials, work has begun on many new features of the Penn-Farley Complex, including:

Restoration of the exterior façade on 31st Street and the interior courtyards;
Creation of new openings to accommodate escalators carrying passengers to platform level;
Shielding three of six underground train platforms for demolition and construction operations; and
Installation of 100 tons of new steel.
The $1.6 billion project is being funded with $550 million from the State, $420 million from Amtrak, the MTA, the Port Authority and a federal grant, and $630 million from the joint venture developers. The new Train Hall is targeted for completion by the end of 2020.

The Moynihan Train Hall is part of the $2.5 billion transformation of the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex announced by Governor Cuomo in January 2016 to dramatically modernize, upgrade and redesign America’s busiest transit hub into a world-class facility for the 21st century. The complex also includes a comprehensive redesign of the LIRR’s existing 33rd Street concourse at Penn Station and an extensive renovation to the adjacent Seventh and Eighth Avenue subway stations. The plan will include nearly tripling the width of the 33rd Street Corridor, which is among the busiest sections of Penn Station and stretches along the station’s lower level from Seventh to Eighth Avenue. Other improvements include upgraded lighting and wayfinding and digital screens to convey information and create a modern passenger experience.

ESD President, CEO, and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “A 21st century transit hub is integral to a strong 21st century economy. Today’s milestone brings us one step closer to a world-class, fully-modernized Penn Station and I commend the Governor for prioritizing and investing in critical infrastructure and moving this project forward.”

Amtrak co-CEO Wick Moorman said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership in advancing construction on the Moynihan Train Hall. The new Train Hall will provide a modern new concourse for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers, funded in part by a $105 million contribution from Amtrak. Along with Amtrak’s infrastructure renewal and concourse improvements at Penn Station, this is another significant milestone is the effort to create a better customer experience for passengers in New York.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, “Today’s announcement is a major step in realizing Senator Moynihan’s bold vision of a grand rail gateway into New York City. I applaud Governor Cuomo, who has worked tirelessly to transform the Farley Federal Post Office Building in Manhattan, and am proud to have helped push for federal funding for this project. I am convinced that Moynihan Station is just the sort of infrastructure improvement and economic development that New York and our nation needs. In addition to generating thousands of good jobs, Moynihan Station will bring our aging infrastructure into the 21st Century and expand our capacity for passengers and make New York-in particular, the West Side of Manhattan-more accessible to commuters and visitors.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said, “Governor Cuomo has unveiled a bold vision for transforming the Farley Post Office Building into a hub that will do justice to the extraordinary Beaux Arts structure and the urgent transportation needs of New Yorkers. When finished, the Moynihan Train Hall will be a grand destination with shops and restaurants that will attract all New Yorkers and make commuting and travel more pleasant. I am thrilled that New York will once again be served by an iconic terminal whose grandeur and beauty reflects all that is best about our city.”

Congressman Adriano Espaillat said, “I commend Governor Cuomo for this mega project as part of his commitment to invest $100 billion in infrastructure projects across New York and for today’s announcement to unveil the modernized renovations of the Moynihan Train Hall. The new Moynihan Train Hall, in its beauty and redesign, will be a critical part of Penn Station’s overhaul, improving New York’s transit infrastructure and helping to connect travelers beyond Manhattan and throughout cities around the world.”

Senator Brad Hoylman said, “After decades of false starts, it is a testament to splendid architecture of McKim, Mead & White, the enduring legacy of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo that the Farley Post Office will now be transformed into the Moynihan Train Hall. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for jumpstarting this monumental project in my Senate district which will be an enormous benefit for commuters and a significant boost to the city’s economy.”

Senator Marisol Alcantara said, “After decades of stagnation and delay, New Yorkers are finally bearing witness to the revival of the Farley building into a train hall truly worthy of this great city. This state-of-the-art transformation will turn the new Moynihan Train Hall into a world-class gateway to Manhattan – offering locals and tourists alike a truly spectacular look into New York City, whether it is their first time visiting or they are simply commuting to work. I thank Governor Cuomo and my partners in the legislature for getting this long-anticipated project on the fast track for completion because New York City deserves the best and with this project, we will deliver just that.”

Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried said, “We’ve waited a long time while all the players have tried to sort out the Farley/Penn Station project. Governor Cuomo has done a great job putting it together and moving it forward. Transforming the Farley building into a 21st century transit center will help people who live, work and visit in our area move more easily and quickly. I commend our state and city partners for bring this project to fruition, providing jobs to New York men and women, and proving to the world that government can get things done.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said, “I’m glad to see Gov. Cuomo’s administration is continuing to make progress on this long-overdue project. Manhattan has long deserved an intercity rail terminal worthy of the greatest city in the world. As this project moves forward, I look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo and Penn Station’s elected officials to make sure the neighborhood and transit network reap the full benefit of this upgraded station complex.”

New York City Council Member Corey Johnson said, “After decades of hand-wringing, New York will finally have at the heart of its transportation network, a state-of-the-art, 21st century transit hub. Spectacular in its architectural design and fit for commercial and retail development, the Moynihan Train Hall demonstrates that government can deliver remarkable results for the people it serves. For years, many talked about the grand idea of transforming the iconic Farley Post Office, but to no avail. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s vision and unwavering leadership, we are celebrating another major milestone in the transformation of Penn Station and giving New Yorkers the world-class transit hub they deserve.”

In January 2016, Empire State Development, the MTA, LIRR and Amtrak issued an RFP soliciting proposals for the comprehensive redevelopment of the century-old, landmarked Farley Building, including a Train Hall and the surrounding office and retail space. RFP responses were received in April 2016 and reviewed by a panel of private and public experts from the real estate, construction, design and finance fields.

In September 2016, the Governor announced the selection of a developer-builder team, including Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska USA, to redevelop the Farley Building. Empire State Development and the joint-venture reached financial close on the transaction in June 2017.

Governor Cuomo is investing $100 billion in infrastructure projects across New York to promote economic development, create jobs, and expand opportunity. These investments enable New York to rebuild and modernize its roads, bridges, broadband networks, public buildings, and other critical infrastructure across the state while putting thousands of New Yorkers to work. Governor Cuomo has jumpstarted long-stalled or long-overdue projects, such as the Tappan Zee Bridge, the transformation of LaGuardia and JFK Airports, the Jacob K. Javits Center expansion, and building a new Penn Station.

LongIsland.com

East River tunnel plan: feasible or fantasy?

Think tank’s rail tunnel plan: feasible or fantasy?

It took a century to complete even a small piece of the Second Avenue subway. The ARC rail tunnel project was canceled after work began. The quest to build the Gateway tunnel has been dragging on. East Side Access, which was once expected to have connected the LIRR to Grand Central by now, is still about six years away. And the cross-harbor rail freight tunnel, after 30 years of advocacy from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, remains just a hope.

Yep. Building train tunnels around here is hard.

So what did the Regional Plan Association propose yesterday? Two new rail tunnels under the East River.

But anyone who mocks the idea as fantasy should consider the list of big RPA ideas that have been ridiculed over the last few decades only to eventually come to fruition, including the George Washington and Verrazano bridges; open space preservation (the Palisades, Governors Island Gateway National Recreation Area); the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; the Second Avenue subway, East Side Access (just about) and (probably) Amtrak’s Gateway project.

Crains New York

Forget the Hyperloop. Just make Amtrak affordable.

An opinion on HYPERLOOP versus AMTRAK from Philly.com

A couple weeks ago, Elon Musk — our nation’s armorless Tony Stark — tweeted that he got the verbal OK to build a high-speed train connecting New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Hypothetically, his Hyperloop could travel 800 mph and get riders from New York to D.C. in the time it takes to watch an HBO comedy. The reaction was split among breathless urbanists begging for more and realists saying that “verbal approval” means nothing. Musk has since stepped up the campaign, with the White House saying it’s had “promising discussions” with him.

This is the kind of pitch that makes upper-class commuters salivate. It’s one step away from being a teleporter!

But here’s the problem: It screws over pretty much every single working-class and middle-income commuter in the city. How dare you build a magic Star Trek train to ferry wealthy folks to and from New York when many Philadelphians can’t even afford a weekly Amtrak ticket! How can you possibly look at infrastructure in this city and think, “What we really need is an even more exclusive train”?

A round-trip Amtrak ticket from Philly to New York costs more than $130. A ride to Harrisburg costs nearly $60. Want to get just to Wilmington? Yeah, that 30-mile ride will run you about $80, round trip. These prices aren’t just unfeasible for the average Philadelphian who needs to get to work. Many local families can’t afford to foot this bill for a holiday visit to see friends and family.

So most people who either can’t use a car, or don’t want to, are doomed to budget buses. Perhaps those lusting for a Hyperloop have never ridden the Greyhound or Megabus before. For the unedified, let me break it down. I was a super-commuter for more than a year, traveling from Philly to New York by BoltBus every morning. The trip often lasted three hours, each minute more nightmarish than the last. The bus reeked of travel-toilet chemicals, broke down on the turnpike regularly, and rattled like a plane flying through a hurricane even on flat road.

In upper-class social strata, there’s this ubiquity about the Acela. Because the wealthy ride it, they assume everyone rides it. In reality, when a well-off Philadelphian urges a not-so-well-off Philadelphian to take Amtrak – and gushes about how they just can’t wait for the vacuum-powered mega-train to be installed – it’s like telling an unemployed post-grad that they simply must go to Ibiza to relax.

Before the nation starts building a high-speed train, it should make Amtrak affordable for all Americans. Currently, the company is little more than a taxpayer-funded luxury service for the rich. Here are three ways to change that, ranging from straightforward to a tad utopian.

1. End the cross-country travel line.

The first solution may sound a bit wonky, but it’s important. Amtrak can make relatively short trips more affordable by ending its cross-country travel lines. Experts say that Amtrak tickets are expensive on the coasts, in part, because our tickets subsidize long-distance trains that crisscross the country. These rides are something of an extravagance – and further proof that Amtrak could not care less about the average commuter – and could be cut in favor of more local trains.

2. Add more trains on the Northeast Corridor.

A second idea comes from Sean Jeans-Gail, vice president of policy at the National Association of Railway Passengers. Just add more trains and cash. He says we pay a premium because the federal government refuses to invest in the improvement and expansion of Amtrak trains and lines. The current situation on the Acela corridor is one of demand greatly exceeding supply — one so egregious that those who can afford to ride Amtrak will pay anything for it, and those of us who can’t, well, who cares? Unfortunately, President Trump is doing the exact opposite of what Jeans-Gail recommends. For all of Trump’s talk of investing in American infrastructure, the White House is cutting $630 million from Amtrak’s long-distance rail budget. This will likely lead to line closures and possibly even steeper prices.

“The only way we can address this issue is by building our way out of it — by dramatically increasing the number of trains on the Northeast Corridor,” says Jeans-Gail.

3. Federalize Amtrak.

The third proposal would amount to a sea change for American travel, but I’m so sick and tired of riding BoltBus that this idea must be pitched: Completely federalize Amtrak. As it stands, the company is technically a private-public enterprise. It has shareholders. It has to appear as though it’s making moves to help the bottom line, even though it operates eternally in the red. Were Amtrak to become a wholly public operation, it would compel the powers that be to install pro-commuter pricing. After all, who expects a public service to make money?

Philadelphians of all stripes should be able to leave the city without blowing up their checking accounts. Let’s figure out how to do that before we worry about shooting attorneys through a tube at 800 mph.

Virginia Railway Express Plans Expansion, But is Hyperloop the Future?

Science fiction seems to be inching closer to reality (at hyper speed, no less) in the form of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept.

Hyperloop One, among numerous teams vying to be first to develop the technology, successfully sent its magnetically levitating XP-1 test pod zooming at nearly 200 mph through a 1,640-foot concrete vacuum tube at its Nevada desert test site on July 29. It was the second such test run, following the first one in May, and was a headline-grabber last week.

In Virginia, weekend traffic on Interstate 95 can certainly be as bad as it is on weekdays, especially during the summer.

Would running Virginia Railway Express trains during the weekend help unclog the interstate?

VRE thinks so, and the commuter rail service has an eye on providing weekend service, per its 2040 Long-Range Plan.

Hey, that is 23 years from now!

The plan, approved by VRE’s Operations Board in 2014, says weekend service could average 6,000 passenger trips “on a typical weekend day.”

That could take a lot of cars off the interstate.

It appears that any such expansion will rely on two major projects.

One is the Long Bridge project. The proposal calls for widening the bridge that spans the Potomac River, the only such railroad bridge connecting Virginia to Washington.

The other shoe that would have to drop would be the addition of a third track. It seems the fate of that addition relies on the D.C.-to-Richmond High Speed Rail Line proposal.

Both of those projects are winding through the tortuously long planning and approval process. The Federal Railroad Administration is expected to make a final decision in 2019.

In the meantime, maybe the Hyperloop will become a reality and someone will convince Musk to dig a tunnel from Fredericksburg to D.C. so we can stop fooling around and enjoy an easy trip to the capital and back.Both of those projects are winding through the tortuously long planning and approval process. The Federal Railroad Administration is expected to make a final decision in 2019.

In the meantime, maybe the Hyperloop will become a reality and someone will convince Musk to dig a tunnel from Fredericksburg to D.C. so we can stop fooling around and enjoy an easy trip to the capital and back.

Simple, Big Solutions for Penn’s Problems

Gotham Gazette

The original Penn Station was an architectural masterpiece. The most ironic part about removing it in a “monumental act of vandalism,” though, is that as a transit facility the original Penn Station had serious flaws. In fact, the platforms and tracks haven’t been significantly altered in more than a century.

Unfortunately, those flaws are growing more obvious by the day. Narrow, crowded platforms and grossly inadequate stairs and escalators are a constant source of delays, dangerous overcrowding and frustration for commuters. But most importantly, Penn Station is not actually a station for most passengers – it’s a terminal. The difference is not merely semantic; in a terminal, trains must cross each other as they enter and leave, making it far less efficient than a through-running station. Even when this doesn’t cause delays, it severely limits capacity and ensures every train has to travel more slowly in Penn.

Twenty-five years ago, we could tolerate these inefficiencies, but passenger counts from Long Island and New Jersey have skyrocketed. Any major investment plan for Penn Station must be focused on solving the cause of commuters’ misery. Amtrak’s Gateway Program and the new Moynihan Station, if optimized, could do so.

Phase 1 of Gateway would add two new critically-needed tracks between Newark and Penn Station. Phase 2 of Gateway, though, includes a new terminal station—Penn Station South. This would require the demolition of an entire city block at a price tag of $8 billion to build another inefficient terminal, and do nothing to alleviate conditions in the existing station. Those funds are better spent on improving Penn and regional connectivity.

This alternate plan would remove the need for Penn Station South, provide additional economic opportunity for the entire region and the opportunity to invest in projects that create smoother and smarter commutes. Through-running is the key to unlocking the ReThinkNYC vision. Highlights of that vision include:

First, build new facilities in the Bronx and New Jersey so it is possible to operate Penn Station as a through station. NJ Transit trains could be extended to Queens, the Bronx, and then along existing Long Island Railroad and Metro-North Lines; similarly, Metro-North and LIRR could be extended to New Jersey.

Next, widen and lengthen Penn’s existing platforms – and use the 31st Street side of the station for eastbound trains and the 33rd Street side for westbound ones, regardless of final destination. Universal “smart” ticketing between the systems can help erase arbitrary distinctions.

This would allow nearly 50% more trains to use the station.
NJ Transit would no longer need to use Sunnyside Yards, making it possible to instead build a major station across the East River that would have access to all of the region’s 26 commuter rail lines, Amtrak, both Penn Station and Grand Central, and seven subway lines. Sunnyside could be the new East Midtown.

In Port Morris, the light industrial neighborhood east of the Bruckner Expressway and south of Hunts Point, commuters could catch NJ Transit and Metro-North – and an extended Second Avenue Subway serving the Bronx.

An AirTrain under the East River to an expanded LaGuardia Airport would provide a quick, convenient single seat ride for millions.

New Yorkers once dreamed of, and then built, big projects. Now, in this post-Robert Moses, post-urban renewal era, planners are taught to think “politically” smaller. This approach has prevented us from addressing transportation systemically and holistically. It’s time to think big…again.

below is the same chart as the featured image.

Jim Venturi is Principal and Founder of ReThink Studio. On Twitter @jimventuri and @RethinkNYCplan.

Cuomo unveils new Schenectady train station design

As the old Schenectady Amtrak station came crumbling down Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stopped in the city to tout the $23 million structure that will replace it.

Joined by state and local officials, Cuomo highlighted recent positive developments in Schenectady, saying a new train station is part of that. The station has been due for an overhaul for several years, and the new structure is expected to be completed by November 2018.

“You see how one piece complements the other piece,” Cuomo said of development in the city. “Rivers (Casino) is going to complement Mohawk Harbor, which is going to bring more people into town, so we’re going to have a new train station.”

As Cuomo spoke, crews began tearing down the old station. The demolition is expected to be completed Wednesday. It’s unclear when construction of the new building will start, but the state will solicit bids for a contract this fall.

The existing Amtrak station, built in the 1970s at the corner of Erie Boulevard and Liberty Street, has been described by local leaders as “an embarrassment,” “past its prime” and “third-world.”

The latest iteration of the replacement station harkens back to the old Union Station built in the early 1900s. The structure will have a golden dome topped with a weather vane shaped like New York state, modern arched windows and expanded seating. It will be ADA compliant.

The inside will feature images of the Erie Canal and the former American Locomotive Co. train yard and other memorabilia, in an effort to illustrate the city’s history.

The new design also calls for retail space, charging stations and digital display systems to provide schedule information. The old station alerted passengers of train status changes via a corkboard.

“This train station is going to be a great addition. It’s going to happen, it’s going to happen fast, it’s going to be done by the end of next year, isn’t that right Commissioner Driscoll?” Cuomo said, looking at the head of the state Department of Transportation. “He says if it’s not done by the end of next year, you can call him.”

Plans for the upgrades have been discussed for several years. The demolition and construction project hit a snag in 2016 when a single contract bid came in roughly $10 million over budget.

In the time since, the project was redesigned, Cuomo pledged state funding to help get the project done, and the demolition and construction contracts were split in two, lowering the cost.

Cuomo pushed for more financing more recently, something that made the latest design upgrades possible, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said. In total, the state will provide $19 million in funding, with federal money covering the rest.

“(Cuomo) has helped make sure it’s a facility that reflects the region,” McCarthy said.

Select trains will use Grand Central Terminal this summer

In Amtrak’s efforts to continue providing you with a safe and reliable travel experience, Amtrak® is accelerating already scheduled work to strengthen and improve operations at New York Penn Station during the summer. The Infrastructure Renewal program will advance several years of already planned work to improve conditions of tracks, switches, and other infrastructure at Penn Station into less than two months.

Along with the previously announced service adjustments, the work will require three northbound and three southbound Empire Service® trains to/from Albany to use Grand Central Terminal [NYG] instead of New York Penn Station [NYP]. This change will affect schedules on weekdays from July 10 through September 1, 2017. If you are traveling on Empire Service trains via Grand Central Terminal this summer, here are a few things to keep in mind:

I am guessing that some AMD110s will be re-equipped with under-running third-rail shoes for the service.

Additional Pittsburgh-Harrisburg rail service subject of study

Tribune-Review via California Rail News

Greensburg’s stately but normally sleepy train station bustles for a few minutes twice a day as passengers board and disembark Amtrak trains during brief stops.

The state Senate wants to see what it would take to triple that activity by adding two daily passenger trains to the route linking Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

I think it’s a great idea. Because I have said for years, we should have trains back and forth,” said Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield.

She especially likes the idea of regular train service between Pittsburgh and Greensburg, allowing commuters to take the train instead of using the Parkway East and braving the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.

“We’ve been a little crippled because we have to go through those tunnels all the time,” Ward said. “I think the studies will show there will be plenty of passenger traffic on that train.”

The route currently has one passenger train, the Pennsylvanian , which travels from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg — and on to New York City — every morning and back each evening. It had 222,940 riders from October 2015 through September. Rail advocates believe it would have many more if a train or two were added to the schedule.

“We believe that there’s a lot of unmet demand between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg because there’s only one train a day,” said Mark Spada, president of Western Pennsylvanians for Passenger Rail. “We believe that the train is running at its realistic capacity. It really holds down the potential ridership because you only have a choice of one daily train.”

The Pennsylvanian route has been debated for years. PennDOT would make the final decision about whether to add trains, and there are many obstacles, spokesman Richard Kirkpatrick said.

“We welcome (the Senate) review, but there are challenges facing Pennsylvania as it weighs that second cross-state train,” he said.

The biggest issue is cost. The state pays Amtrak $2.1 million a year to run the Pennsylvanian, and early estimates show adding one train could cost another $3.7 million to $6 million annually.

There might not be enough riders to justify that cost, Kirkpatrick said.

It takes more than five hours to take the Pennsylvanian from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, which is about two hours longer than by car. Many cross-state travelers opt to drive rather than buy a $49 ticket for a longer trip, Kirkpatrick said.

There’s also a logistics problem.

Although Amtrak owns the Pennsylvanian, Norfolk Southern owns the track, which freight trains use. It might be difficult to fit extra passenger trains into the busy freight schedule, Kirkpatrick said.

A second Amtrak train on the route was canceled in 2006 when Amtrak stopped carrying mail, Amtrak spokesman Mike Tolbert said.

“We welcome any discussion regarding additional Amtrak service,” Tolbert said.

Amtrak Says It Won’t Pay For LIRR’s Emergency Penn Station Plan. It’s Unclear Who Will.

GOTHAMIST from California Rail News

Amtrak does not want to front the bill for at least eight weeks of Long Island Railroad schedule changes, fare reductions and ferry and bus alternatives during this summer’s emergency Penn Station repairs, president C.W. Moorman confirmed in a letter to the MTA on Wednesday. The news comes a week after the MTA outlined a contingency plan of unknown cost, insisting the burden will not fall on commuters.

“The LIRR has no basis to seek compensation for such costs from Amtrak,” Moorman wrote. He added that Amtrak estimates its contribution this summer to be between $30 and $40 million, and that the MTA’s call for reimbursement would violate the authority’s contract with Amtrak (the MTA rents terminal space from Amtrak at Penn Station).

Acting MTA Director Ronnie Hakim hinted at Wednesday’s MTA Board meeting at a price tag in the millions for planned LIRR contingencies. Hakim also vowed to consult MTA lawyers about “our rights” to force Amtrak’s hand. But some Board Members were skeptical, accusing Hakim and the MTA of poor planning in assuming Amtrak would pay. Some also demanded clarification on the cost of the plan, and argued that putting time and energy into avoiding the expense would be a waste.

“We should be doubling down on seeking federal funding, and focus our legal team on addressing funding [issues] in D.C.,” she added.
Other members of the board said that they doubted the federal government would come through. Amtrak’s federal funding was cut in 2015, and Trump’s vague infrastructure plan could also spell cuts. “We would always like to talk about the receipt of federal funds,” said acting board chairman Fernando Ferrer. “I don’t engage in fantasy, so let’s be realistic about this.”
Polly Trottenberg, a mayoral appointee to the board and commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation, was more blunt.
“I will boldly say, I don’t think we’re getting the money from Amtrak and sadly I don’t think Uncle Sam is riding to the rescue either,” she said. “I think we’re going to have to accept that we’re going to be paying for this. So I have a basic question: what’s the price tag?”

All aboard for the new Rochester train station

Democrat & Chronical via California Rail News

It was only supposed to be a temporary solution. Thirty-seven years after the Rochester train station was built, construction is now near completion for a new hub for Amtrak and CSX and an enhanced traveling experience for passengers.

Together with area business owners, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, led a tour of the new train station that’s slated to be completed in a few weeks. She helped secure a $15 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to help fund the expansion.

The remodel was much needed to help grow businesses and to serve the entire community, Slaughter said.

“Our community is blessed to be close to so many major cities and this new state-of-the-art, ADA-compliant station will help move goods and people where they need to go and encourage new companies to open their doors right here in Monroe County,” Slaughter said.

The project will be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Once completed, it will feature 12,000 square feet of space, including a passenger concourse, platform and passenger display systems. The station will offer full access to the platform by elevators, escalators, stairs and ramps. Currently, passengers must climb up steps to board the train and passengers with disabilities need to use a lift.

Infrastructure is critical to the success of area businesses and trains are as important as other modes of transportation, Slaughter said. Many passengers prefer to take the train versus flying so they can relax and stretch out on the ride, she said.

Irondequoit resident Marlene Canavan agrees. She was waiting for her daughter, Darla, to arrive from New York City at the train station. Her daughter switches between flying and taking the train and sometimes prefers the train because it is time consuming to go through airport security. Canavan is eager to see the upgrades to the Rochester train station.

Accessibility to Rochester is important for visitors coming to the area, said Naomi Silver, president and CEO of Rochester Red Wings minor league baseball team.

Having a good infrastructure for different transportation is important for businesses in the area, said John Hart, CEO of Lumetrics in Henrietta. The infrastructure helps bring customers in, he said.