Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak Empire Corridor’

New Schenectady Station Opens 2 Weeks Early

October 19, 2018

The new Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York, has opened two weeks ahead of schedule.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Oct. 17 for the $23 million station that is served by Amtrak’s Empire Corridor trains as well as the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf, Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express.

Funding for the station included $19 million from the state of New York, $3.6 million from the Federal Railroad Administration, $220,000 from Amtrak and $48,000 from the Schnectady Metroplex Development Authority.

It is the third new station in the Empire Corridor to open in the past three years following station openings in Niagara Falls (2016) and Rochester (2017).

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Ceiling Collapse Closes Amtrak Station

July 6, 2018

A ceiling collapse prompted Amtrak to temporarily suspend service to Rome, New York, this week.

The ceiling fell in about 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday but just one person was in the depot at the time and was not injured.

Amtrak closed the station in order to make repairs, which are expected to take until at least July 10.

Passengers are being steered to the Utica, New York station 14 miles away.

New York Central built the Rome station between 1912 and 1914 and it has been owned by the City of Rome since 1988.

The station was renovated between 2002 and 2004. Trains stopping there include the New Y York-Toronto Maple Leaf and two Empire Service round trips.

NYC Bridge Removed for Repair

June 23, 2018

The Spuyten Duyvil Bridge in New York City has been removed and towed away so that it can be repaired.

The bridge, which spans the Harlem River, lies on the route of the Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf and Empire Corridor service.

Removal of the bridge prompted Amtrak to suspend the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited for the summer.

Once mechanical and electrical work on the bridge is completed, it will be put back into place and reopened by Sept. 3.

The bridge rehabilitation is part of a rebuilding of the Empire Connection, which also included lowering 645 feet of the Empire Tunnel on the route.

During a meeting with reporters, Amtrak’s chief operating office, Scot Naparstek, and its chief commercial officer, Stephen Gardner, gave an update on the work, which is part of a larger project to rebuild infrastructure at New York’s Penn Station.

The two Amtrak executives said the passenger carrier is seeking replacement equipment for the 500-car Amfleet I fleet, most of which is 40 years old.

They did not give a timetable for that replacement, but indicated that it is not imminent.

Amtrak has been refurbishing the interiors of its Amfleet I cars to give them a more modern look. Those cars are used largely on eastern corridor trains with a few assigned to Midwest corridor trains.

Amtrak Reportedly Will Suspend LSL New York Section During Penn Station Construction This Summer

March 1, 2018

An online report said that Amtrak plans to return FL9 locomotives to service this summer and temporarily drop the New York section of the Lake Shore Limited due to construction at New York Penn Station.

The report, which did not provide sources, said the FL9s are owned by the State of Connecticut and will be used as cab cars when some Empire Service trains begin using Grand Central Terminal.

The former New Haven locomotives are needed because for emergencies there must be an exit from a train in the Park Avenue Tunnel. Side doors cannot be used on outside tracks so passengers would need to be evacuated through the rear door

However, Amtrak’s P32AC-DMs locomotives lack a nose door. Therefore, the FL9s will be used to lead trains into Grand Central.  The trains will be turned there so that the FL9s will lead at all times.

The report said the FL9s will need to be rebuilt at the Amtrak shops in Rensselaer, New York, for cab car use.

Metro-North P32AC-DM engines are able to use the Park Avenue tunnel because they were built with nose doors.

The planned consists of Amtrak trains using Grand Central will be a cab car or non-powered F-9 leading; an unoccupied Amtrak P32AC-DM to provide traction and head-end power, and the train’s passenger cars.

During this period the Lake Shore Limited will continue to operate between Chicago and Boston.

More Empire Corridor Track Work Planned

December 6, 2017

More track work is planned for Amtrak’s Empire Corridor rail officials said this week.

Speaking at a ceremony to make the 50th anniversary of the New York-Buffalo, New York, route, Amtrak’s Joe McHugh, vice president of state supported services and business development, said work is planned for the Empire Connector, which leads into New York’s Penn Station.

The ceremony was held at the Capital District Transportation Authority rail station in Rensselaer.

McHugh and other officials wouldn’t provide any specifics, but the Albany Times-Union reported that sources with knowledge of the plans said Empire Service trains would have to be temporarily redirected to Grand Central Terminal next summer.

Amtrak apparently still needs to reach an agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to use GCT.

The event was held to look back on the history of the Empire Corridor, which was developed in 1967 by the New York Central Railroad.

McHugh said that in the middle 1960s it wasn’t clear whether there was a future for passenger rail.

“The people who rethought the roles that trains could fill are the people who saved the railroad,” he said.

In recent years, Amtrak has rebuilt some tracks used by Empire Service trains, added a fourth track at the Albany-Rensselaer station, and installed a second track between Albany and Schenectady.

A new station for Schenectady is currently under construction.

Amtrak is still awaiting delivery of new dining cars and sleeping cars for its long-distance trains, including the Lake Shore Limited.

McHugh said the diners that have been delivered have received positive comments from passengers and that refurbishment of the interiors of the carrier’s Amfleet I cars should be completed by March 2018.

50th Anniversary of Empire Corridor to be Marked

December 2, 2017

Amtrak and New York State on Monday will celebrate 50 years of Empire Service between New York and Buffalo, New York.

The event will be held at the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station. Expected to be in attendance are elected officials, local dignitaries and prominent Albany civic leaders.

Amtrak plans to honor those who were at the New York Central in 1967 when the Empire Service was launched.

“Celebrating 50 years of rail passenger service is an accomplishment that Amtrak is proud to celebrate with all of its state partners and the communities along this route who have been integral to the Empire Service’s success,” said Joe McHugh, Amtrak’s vice president of state supported services and business development.

The Empire Service was the result of restructuring of NYC intercity passenger service that the railroad hoped would reduce its passenger financial deficit.

Many long-distance trains were restructured and lost their names. The NYC also discontinued the fabled 20th Century Limited.

When Amtrak began operations on May 1, 1971, the Empire Corridor hosted seven daily trains.

Today the corridor has 12 daily trains, although most of them operate only between New York and Albany-Rensselaer.

Amtrak restored service to Niagara Falls in 1971 and to downtown Schenectady in 1978.

Amtrak’s Empire Service trains are supported by funds made available by the New York State Department of Transportation.

Trains in the corridor use dual-mode locomotives, which enables the trains to operate under diesel power and then switch to electric third rail power for operation into and out of New York Penn Station.

Until April 7, 1991, Amtrak’s Empire Service trains used New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

A recent track rebuilding has resulted in a 45-mile stretch of track between Hudson and Schenectady having a top speed of 110 miles per hour.

Rochester Station Cost 49% More Than Expected

October 19, 2017

The newly opened Amtrak station in Rochester, New York, has received high marks, but it also wound up costing 49 percent more than projected.

The station replaced a modular facility that Amtrak built in the 1970s.

When the project was announced in 2014, the projected cost was put at $29.8 million.

Even that figure was an increase over projections of a few years earlier. Officials said that design changes and delays has increased the sticker price.

But when the station opened more than a week ago, officials said that the station had cost $44.3 million.

In a news release, the New York Department of Transportation said that $20.4 million of the expenses were covered by the federal government, $500,000 by the City of Rochester and $23.4 million by the state.

NYDOT said a number of things led to the increased cost. Those included unexpected costs related to skylights, bridges, soil removal and drainage work.

This included unforeseen problems once workers reached the basement of the former New York Central Railroad station that stood at the site.

Those increased design and construction expenses cost from $29.5 million to $34.3 million.

Much of the remaining $10 million in added costs came from track work performed by CSX. This included moving two mainline tracks and building two new tracks for Amtrak’s use.

An open government group said that CSX was paid $8 million for that work.

Rochester is served by four Amtrak Empire Service trains, the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited.

Amtrak Completes Penn Station Work

September 1, 2017

Amtrak announced on Thursday that a track rebuilding program at New York Penn Station has been completed in time for the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Scheduled service that had been suspended for the project will be restored on Sept. 5.

That means the New York-New Orleans Southern Crescent will resume originating in New York rather than Washington as it has since July 10.

Empire Service trains that temporarily terminated at New York Grand Central Terminal will also return to Penn Station.

During the project workers replaced Track 10 and four diamonds near Tower A.

Additional work has been scheduled for the fall, but will take place during 55-hour weekend windows.

Inspectors will review the station’s track infrastructure and make repairs on weekends through next spring.

Amtrak to Skip Buffalo Exchange Street on July 23-24

July 22, 2017

Amtrak’s New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and New York-Niagara Falls Empire Service trains will not stop at Buffalo Exchange Street Station on July 23 and 24 due to track work being performed by CSX.

Alternative transportation will be provided between the Exchange Street station and Buffalo-Depew station.

Affected are Trains 63, 64, 281, 283, 284 and 288 on July 23, and trains Trains 63, 64, 280, 281, 283 and 284 on July 24.

Second Track Opens in Amtrak Empire Corridor

July 14, 2017

Work to install a second track on a CSX route in New York State heavily used by Amtrak has been completed.

The $91.2 million project involved building the second track between Schenectady and Albany in order to eliminate a bottleneck that often delayed Amtrak trains on a 17-mile stretch of single track.

The track went into service on June 26 to conclude the end of the three-year project.

Some trains waited as long as 20 minutes in Schenectady or Rensselaer for opposing traffic to clear.

The track had been removed when the rails were owned by Penn Central.

Overseeing the project were the New York State Department of Transportation, Amtrak and CSX.

In a related development, New York officials released design details for a new $23 million Amtrak station in Schenectady. The station is expected to be completed in late 2018.

The design will feature a wraparound awning outside the building, a weather vane in the shape of New York state on top of a gold dome on the roof, and over-sized arched windows similar in design to those of the 1910-era Union station that once sat at the site.

Earlier this year, Amtrak finished work to improve its station serving Albany-Rensselaer.

That $50.5 million project involved construction of a fourth passenger loading track, extending the loading platforms and upgrading block signals.

Much of that work will benefit the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited, which splits at the Albany-Rensselaer station.

Still to be completed is a $3.5 million state-funded project to rebuild platform elevators and replace the escalators.

Other work that remains in the Empire Corridor to be completed includes making grade crossing and signal improvements south of Rensselaer on the route to New York City.

Most of the funding for the work in the Capitol Region of New York came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Federal Railroad Administration in a separate allotment had granted New York $33 million to be used to install positive train control technology between Poughkeepsie and Schenectady.