Posts Tagged ‘New York Penn Station’

Trump Budget Slashes Amtrak Funding by 45%

May 24, 2017

The Trump administration wants to slash Amtrak funding by 45 percent in fiscal year 2018.

The detailed budget proposed released this week proposed giving Amtrak $744 million.

In the current fiscal year, Amtrak received $1.4 billion. The cuts for next year include ending $289 for Amtrak’s long-distance train routes.

The budget document described long-distance trains as “a vestige of when train service was the only viable transcontinental transportation option. Today, communities are served by an expansive aviation, interstate highway, and intercity bus network.”

The document said Amtrak’s long-distance trains represent the greatest amount of Amtrak’s operating losses, serve relatively small populations, and have the worst on-time record.

The Trump administration would instead appropriate $1.5 billion for the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington.

[The Northeast Corridor] “faces many challenges, and the 2018 Budget proposal would allow Amtrak to right-size itself and more adequately focus on these pressing issues,” the budget document said.

Nonetheless, the Trump administration has proposed cutting funding for the development of New York’s Penn Station by 64 percent from $14 million to $5 million.

The Amtrak funding cuts make up the lion’s share of the 37 percent cut proposed by the Trump administration for the Federal Railroad Administration.

The agency’s parent organization, the U.S. Department of Transportation, would receive $16.2-billion in FY 2018, a decline of 12.7 percent over what it received in FY 2017.

The Federal Railroad Administration’s budget would drop by 37 percent from $1.7 billion to $1.05 billion while Federal Transit Administration will decline by 5 percent from its FY 2017 appropriation of $11.8 billion.

The FTA would receive $11.2 billion, which includes $9.7 billion for transit formula grants. The FTA’s Capital Investment Grant program for new starts would be cut by 43 percent from $2.16 billion to $1.2.

Funding would be continued only for programs that FTA is legally bound to support through full-funding grant agreements.

Funding for the Transportation Generating Economic Recovery grant program would be eliminated.

The budget document said projects that are attempting to receive TIGER funding could still earn grants through the Nationally Significant Freight and Highways Projects fund managed by DOT’s Build America Bureau.

The Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing and Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation programs would remain in place, but receive no additional funding.

The National Transportation Safety Board would receive $106 million, which is no change from FY 2017.

The Surface Transportation Board would receive a $5 million boost to $37 million in order to implement regulatory changes under the STB reauthorization law of 2015.

The Trump administration budget proposal is likely to undergo numerous changes as Congress considers federal funding priorities for FY 2018.

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.

Amtrak Might Return to Grand Central Terminal

May 15, 2017

Amtrak is considering terminating some of its Empire Corridor trains at New York Grand Central Terminal this summer as one way to deal with limited track capacity as an emergency repair program is undertaken at Penn Station.

It is not clear if the move would affect all trains operating via Albany, New York, including such long-distance and medium-distance trains as the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf and Ethan Allen Express.

Amtrak used Grand Central until 1991 when it opened a line to feed trains using the former New York Central Water Level Route into Penn Station.

The Penn Station track and switch replacement project is expected to reduce that station’s train capacity by as much as 25 percent when it gets underway on July 7 and lasts for 44 days.

A news report in the Times-Union of Albany, New York, indicated that at least some Empire Corridor trains would use Grand Central, suggesting that some trains would continue to originate and terminate at Penn Station.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying that Amtrak crews are being offered the opportunity to bid for job operating trains running to Grand Central.

Grand Central is used by Metro North Commuter Railroad trains.

Amtrak President Charles “Wick” Moorman has noted that Penn Station serves 1,300-plus weekday train movements using an infrastructure network designed in 1910 to accommodate less than half of its current volume.

Also using Penn Station are New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad.

Grand Central serves about two-thirds the volume of Penn Station.

One advantage of using Grand Central for Amtrak is that the terminal has a loop track that can be used to turn inbound trains after they have unloaded their passengers.

Penn Station Info Board Being Removed

January 23, 2017

A New York Penn Station icon fell by the wayside on Monday (Jan. 23, 2017).

The large train arrivals and departures board was removed in favor a passenger information display system that was actually activated last October.

Amtrak logoAmtrak said the new system features LCD displays that are easier to read and synchronize audio and visual messages.

The passenger carrier also contends that the system will improve foot traffic flow because although the new video screens are smaller, they are dispersed throughout the station.

The former information board was centrally located and drew traffic to it, particularly during peak periods when passengers would stand beneath the board towering 10 feet over their heads to wait for the track for their train to be posted.

Workers began Monday morning removing the former information board, a process that will continue throughout the week.

Penn Station handles 665,000 people a day riding 1,200 trains.

Amtrak to Offer Autumn Special Excursions

September 29, 2016

Amtrak has announced that it will offer another fall foliage excursion in the East this year with tickets going on sale on Oct. 3.

Amtrak logoThe train will depart at 8 a.m. from Penn Station in New York and 8:30 a.m. from Penn Station in Newark, New Jersey, on  Oct. 29 and 30.

Tickets are $149 per person and includes a boxed lunch, souvenir tote bag, and a commemorative pin. The child fare will be $74.50 and includes the same amenities.

After stopping in Newark, the train will head west along the former Lehigh Valley Railroad and pass through the Musconetcong Tunnel, which opened in 1875.

After crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, the train will run along the Lehigh River to Allentown, passing the scenic farm country of Pennsylvania on the former route of the Queen of the Valley passenger train to Harrisburg.

This line has been freight only since 1963.

From Harrisburg, the train will go east on Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor and have a photo stop at Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The route to New York will use regular Amtrak rails, passing through the New York and Pittsburgh Subway at Zoo Tower in Philadelphia.

Arrival back in Newark is expected to be 6:10 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m. in New York.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase onboard the train.