Category Archives: New Jersey

Amtrak announces service plans for papal visit

Amtrak has announced that it is adding extra trains with more seats to help handle the increase in riders during the pope’s visit to the United States in September.

Heavy demand is expected as Pope Francis travels from Washington to New York then Philadelphia.

Amtrak outlined the following plans:

Operations

With some minor exceptions, operations in and around New York and Washington will be normal, although passengers should expect large crowds during the Pope’s scheduled events. Amtrak service will operate on a normal weekday schedule Monday, September 21 through Friday, September 25, with extra coaches added to some trains to accommodate additional demand.

Starting Friday, September 25, through Monday, September 28, reservations will be required on all Acela Express, Northeast Regional and Keystone Service trains. As outlined in the timetable at Amtrak.com/PapalVisit, Amtrak will operate Philadelphia-centric “Event Extra” service on Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, September 27, in some cases utilizing equipment from our commuter partners.

Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration mass on 19 March 2013.To better ensure efficient train movements for all users of the NEC, Amtrak will suspend maintenance activities, pre-position rescue equipment to quickly respond to any disabled trains, and continuously share real-time dispatching information with our regional transit agency partners.

Except for suspending maintenance, shouldn’t Amtrak be doing these in some form everyday?

30th Street Station

To ensure public safety and aid in crowd control, some special procedures will be implemented at Philadelphia 30th Street Station during the weekend of the papal visit. In addition to Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains, SEPTA service to/from Levittown, Marcus Hook, Wilmington, Croydon and Cornwells Heights, will operate from the lower-level/main concourse. Specific boarding procedures and recommended points of entry will be announced at a later date. Additional station personnel and ambassadors will be on hand to assist, but passengers should expect long lines and crowded conditions.

Taxi service and rental cars will not be available to/from 30th Street Station Friday, September 25 through Sunday, September 27. Station restrooms will be closed to the public but facilities will be available outside. Food court eateries will be open and accessible from the Market Street entrance.

Tickets

Tickets for all Amtrak trains are available now at Amtrak.com. Passengers are advised to book as early as possible to ensure availability. Additional announcements with more detailed information will be made in the weeks to come and posted to our custom web page, Amtrak.com/papalvisit, which will be updated regularly.

http://www.amtrak.com/papalvisit

Schumer proposes plan for new Hudson River rail tunnels

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday proposed a new nonprofit development corporation that would come up with a financing plan to pay for the construction of new rail tunnels under the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York.

The proposed Gateway Development Corp. would help advance Amtrak’s Gateway program to construct new tunnels to expand train capacity into New York City from New Jersey and elsewhere on the Northeast Corridor, Schumer said in a speech, which was reported by several New York news media outlets.

Schumer’s proposal follows a number of recent power breakdowns and other infrastructure problems in the existing 106-year old Hudson River tunnels, which led to long delays for New Jersey Transit riders. The tunnels are owned by Amtrak, but many of the trains that run through them are owned and operated by NJ Transit.

The tunnels have had aging infrastructure problems for some time, but they sustained severe and permanent damage during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

Amtrak’s Gateway program is a comprehensive plan to expand capacity and improve rail infrastructure into Manhattan. A major component is to build a new Hudson River tunnel that would allow the closing of the older structures for repair. Although the railroad has made progress with the plan, it lacks the funding to complete it. Last year, Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman estimated the Gateway program would cost about $16 billion.

Yesterday, Schumer acknowledged Amtrak’s Gateway efforts to date, but added that completing the project will require the cooperation from other government partners and transit agencies.

“We are fast approaching a regional transportation Armageddon: the busiest rail line in the US stranded without a way into NY,” Schumer said on his Twitter account. “Gateway will take energy, commitment, several leaps of faith, but above all else, it will take cooperation.”

Boardman agreed that beginning work on the Gateway project, including constructing a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, was “of the utmost urgency to both the region and the entire Northeast Corridor,” according to a prepared statement reported by the Asbury Park Press.

“To do that, we need to develop a true partnership