Posts Tagged ‘Empire Corridor’

New York State to Take Another Stab at High-Speed Rail

December 28, 2019

New York State will try another tactic toward implement a high-speed rail service on the Empire Corridor used by Amtrak.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will appoint a panel of engineers to review past high-speed rail plans and recommend a new plan for how to build high-speed rail New York-Albany-Buffalo route.

A statement released by the governor’s office said most of the state’s population lives near the Empire Corridor and the average speed of passenger trains on the route is 51 mph.

Various administrations have sought without success over the past two decades to implement high-speed rail service plans but have been stymied by, among other things, high cost.

Previous proposals have also indicated that it would take decades to create a high-speed line to Buffalo.

Cuomo’s statement said the news panel will “reexamine and rethink strategies to bring high speed rail to New York.”

The Empire Corridor hosts Amtrak trains between New York and Niagara Falls, New York, but also sees the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

NY Amtrak Routes Posted Ridership Gains in FY2019

November 23, 2019

Ridership numbers for various Amtrak routes are starting to be released in the wake of the passenger carrier releasing a summary of its fiscal year 2019 performance.

This includes routes serving the Empire Corridor of New York where the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf posted a 6.5 percent increase to 390,355 passengers.

The Lake Shore Limited, which links Chicago with Boston and New York, saw a 5.9 percent gain to 357,682 passengers, while the Empire Corridor south of Albany posted a 5.5 percent gain to 1,214,206 passengers.

The Adirondack between New York and Montreal was up 5.5 percent, while the Ethan Allen Express between New York and Rutland was up 1.7 percent.

NY Won’t Fund More Empire Service Cafe Cars

April 5, 2019

New York transportation officials have ruled out for now funding café car service on Amtrak’s Empire Service trains operating between New York City and Albany-Rensselaer.

Food and beverage service was removed by Amtrak from those trains in 2005 in a cost-cutting move.

Earlier this year, passenger train advocates, including the Empire State Passengers Association, began pushing for food service to be offered on all Empire Corridor trains.

However, a New York Division of Budget official ruled that out this week.

“The FY 2020 Enacted Budget does not include funding to restore food service in the Empire Corridor and we continue to look to the Federal government to restore its role in fully supporting train service,” said spokesman Freeman Klopott.

Nonetheless, the ESPA is not giving up. President Gary Prophet said the money needed to restore food service would used to cover startup costs of the service.

“Cafe service on short-distance trains breaks even,” Prophet said, adding that it was only the dining cars on the long-distance trains that lose money.

Café car service is available on several trains operating in the Empire Corridor including the Adirondack, Ethan Allen Express, Maple Leaf and Lake Shore Limited.

The two New York-Niagara Falls Empire Service roundtrips also offer café cars.

Amtrak cited heavy financial losses for ending food and beverage service on Empire Service trains operating south of Albany in 2005.

It launched a four-month trial in fall 2005 of selling Subway sandwiches aboard those trains, but pulled the plus before the end of the first week of operation.

Passengers since then had to bring their own food or buy something at a coffee shop in the Albany-Rensselaer station.

Second Generation Turboliner

May 29, 2018

Back in the mid 1970s Amtrak tried to make a splash by leasing a couple of French-built gas turbine trains.

Capable of traveling 125 mph, Amtrak knew that the Turboliners would not be able to get close to that in the Chicago-St. Louis corridor where they were introduced in August 1973.

But the Turboliners were the newest equipment that Amtrak had to show off.

The first sets of Turboliners were built in France, but California-based Rohr Industries would build seven Turbotrain sets that were delivered between 1976 and 1977.

These Turboliners were based on the earlier French design but had American couplers and a re-designed cab car.

The Rohr or RTG Turboliners were capable of operating in electrified third rail territory so they were assigned to Empire Corridor Service in New York.

I was waiting for a commuter train in Beacon, New York, in December 1982 on what is now Metro North when one of the RTG Turboliners came charging past.

I had just enough time to get my camera  out and compose this image.

Empire Corridor Service Disruptions Set, Trains to Use New York Grand Central Terminal

May 21, 2018

Amtrak has announced its plans to divert most trains using the Empire Corridor between New York and Albany-Rensselaer, New York, to Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

The diversion will last between May 26 and Sept. 3 and result in the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited being terminated at Albany.

Passengers traveling to and from New York on Trains 48 and 49 will make an across the platform transfer at Albany-Rensselaer.

Passengers on No. 48 will transfer at Albany to Train 244 bound Grand Central Terminal.

Passengers originating in New York and ticketed aboard No. 49 will use Trains 291, 255 or 295 from Grand Central Terminal and Albany.

The Lake Shore Limited during the summer will travel between Chicago and Boston.

Train 449 will depart Albany 30 minutes later than scheduled with other minor timing adjustments.

Empire Corridor trains that will service Grand Central include Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Adirondack and Maple Leaf trains.

Trains arriving at and departing from Grand Central Terminal will operate on an adjusted schedule and passengers are urged to contact Amtrak for schedule information.

Amtrak personnel will be available at Grand Central Terminal between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily, to answer questions and provide information. The station also has an information kiosk.

Passengers transferring between New York Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal are being referred to taxi and local transit options. Amtrak is not providing transfer service. The two terminals are located about a mile apart.

Checked baggage service will not be available at Grand Central Terminal.

The service disruptions are being prompted by an infrastructure renewal program at New York Penn Station that also include work on the route leading into the terminal from the Empire Corridor.

Signs Point to Shift to Grand Central for Amtrak

May 22, 2017

Amtrak has yet to comment on reports that it plans to shift some Empire Corridor trains this summer to New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, but there are increasing signs that it will happen.

Gary Prophet of the Empire State Passengers Association told New York radio station WCBS that he has spoken with Amtrak train crews who said they are being trained to operate on the route to Grand Central Terminal.

A New York state legislator who represent the Albany, New York, area, said Amtrak using Grand Central is a real possibility.

“The fact that there’s ongoing discussion and communication . . . indicates that it’s still very much in play,” he said.

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman didn’t address using Grand Central in speaking to a state legislative panel last week, but said that “for perspective on this, Grand Central Terminal handles only roughly two-thirds the number of daily trains on double the number of train tracks, compared to Penn Station.”

Amtrak has announced that it plans to conduct a track repair project at New York’s Penn Station this summer and that during that work 25 percent of the station’s track capacity will be out of service. That project will begin on July 7.

Penn Station handles 1,300 passenger trains a day. Amtrak has not used Grand Central Terminal since 1991.

Empire Service Skeds Modified for CSX Track Work

April 5, 2017

Some Empire Service trains will operate on modified schedules between April 9 and Sept. 4 due to CSX track work.

In a service advisory, Amtrak did not identify the trains affected but said that some trains will depart as much as 25 minutes early.

Between April 9 and May 10, Amtrak said two Empire Service trains will operate between Niagara Falls and Albany-Rensselaer, New York, on Sunday through Wednesday.

Three Empire Service trains will operate between those points on Thursday through Saturday.

Amtrak said that schedules will change throughout the track work period.

3 Bids Received for Schenectady Station Work

March 31, 2017

Three bids have been submitted for the proposed new Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York.

All of the bids appear to be within the $6 budget for the station.

The bidders were seeking to perform the first phase of the project, which includes razing the current station and doing concrete and structural work around the station platform.

That work is expected to begin this spring once a winning bidder is chosen by the New York State Department of Transportation.

It is the second time that bids have been submitted for the station work.

Last year one bid for the project came in $10 million over budget. State officials decided to break the station project into two phases.

The budget for the project is $15 million, most of which is from federal funding.

The project timeline calls for demolition of the station to be completed this year. Amtrak is constructing a temporary boarding platform at Liberty Street.

The contract for construction of the permanent station is expected to go out for bid this fall with construction starting in 2018.

The new station is expected to resembled the former Union Station, which was razed years ago. The current Amtrak station opened in 1979.

About 60,000 passengers per year board Amtrak at Schenectady, but city officials believe the station could become busier after the opening of the Rivers Casino and Resort.

NYDOT Pledges to Complete Building New Schenectady Amtrak Station by November 2018

February 9, 2017

A New York transportation official pledged on Wednesday that a new Amtrak station for Schenectady will go out for bid this year and be completed by November 2018. Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll said during a tour of the early 1970s era station that the project will be bid in two stages.

Amtrak 4The construction steel work will be released for bid on Feb. 24 and is expected to cost about $6 million.

The remainder of the project will go to bid this fall and is expected to cost $9 million.

Amtrak has agreed to pay some costs not directly associated with the station building, including track work.

Driscoll said the building alone — without repairs to a 100-year-old viaduct included in the first bid proposal — can be done with a $15 million budget.

Some bridge rehabilitation work will be funded by an Amtrak track rebuilding project that is currently in progress.

Amtrak and NYDOT are still discussing erecting a temporary station that passengers will use while the permanent depot is being built.

Schenectady is served by Amtrak’s Maple Leaf, Ethan Allen Express, Lake Shore Limited and Empire Service trains.

Amtrak Changing Schedules at Niagara Falls

February 4, 2017

Amtrak will change its schedules at Niagara Falls, New York, on Feb. 20 to reflect a station change.

Amtrak logoAmtrak begin using the new station in December 2016. In a service advisory, Amtrak said the following changes will be made to the schedules of Empire Service trains and the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf.

  • Trains 64, 280, 284 and 288 will depart Niagara Falls three minutes earlier.
  • Trains 281 and 283 will arrive at Niagara Falls nine minutes earlier.
  • Train 288 departs six minutes earlier.
  • Train 63 will arrive and depart Niagara Fall five minutes later.