Tag Archives: Rensselaer

Return of Albany’s “Night Boat”

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Picture (undated, from the Library of Congress) shows the “Night Boat” from New York City docked in Albany. Everything is different in the picture except the Livingston Avenue Bridge in the background that still carries AMTRAK between New York City and Chicago.
Up until 1941, The “Night Boat” from New York City to Albany could carry 2,000 passengers. It ended an era in American history of grand boats with staterooms, ballrooms, etc running up and down the Hudson River. Passengers could be young couples on a weekend trip, couples evading detection by spouses, “ladies of the evening”, etc. There was even a Broadway farce in the 1920’s called the “Night Boat“.
But by 1941, everybody was in a hurry. You could make the trip by car, train or even airplane. Saratoga horse racing and gambling was slowing down as more options opened up near NY City. So when it went down the tubes, few cared about the “Night Boat”.
The first “crack” in the monopoly of the Hudson River steam boats was in the 1860’s when Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Hudson River Railroad (part of the great New York Central Railroad) started running trains, first only in the Winter. At their beginning, trains stopped at Rensselaer with passengers walking across a foot bridge. A NY Central subsidiary, “The Hudson River Bridge Company at Albany” solved that problem with the Maiden Lane Bridge into downtown Albany (now gone) and the Livingston Avenue Bridge (originally a freight bypass).
Now, New York State is considering changes to gambling laws, and guess what? A “gambling” boat between NY City and Albany might become legal.
Not going to get into the topic of Saratoga and gambling (other than horses), but it could help Rensselaer too. Imagine a “class” hotel there!

Amtrak Second Track to Schenectady is Moving Ahead

ImageFinally!

Ties have been delivered, access roads and staging areas built, and work is getting under way on nearly $200 million in passenger rail improvements in the Capital Region.

The wooden ties will be used to rehabilitate the existing single track between Albany and Schenectady, which has caused delays for years as trains waited for other trains traveling in the opposite direction to clear the track.

A fourth track was always planned for the Rensselaer rail station, but was postponed when money ran out.

The result: Trains often have to wait just outside the station for other trains to clear one of the three existing tracks.

While the improvements — which also include new signals south of Rensselaer that are more resistant to adverse weather, as well as improvements that will make road crossings safer — won’t speed your trip, they’re intended to reduce delays that can add minutes and occasionally hours to your trip.

The Empire Corridor is one of Amtrak‘s busiest. Nearly 100,000 people used the line between the Capital Region and New York City in July alone.

From Rensselaer, passengers can also take trains east to Boston, north to Montreal and Rutland, and west to Chicago.

So where do the improvement projects stand?

State Department of Transportation spokesman Beau Duffy said Amtrak would request proposals from a short list of contractors later this fall for work that includes the second track between Albany and Schenectady, and the fourth track and platform work at the Rensselaer station.