Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a long-term lease agreement between CSX and Amtrak, enabling Amtrak to take full control of the Hudson Line between Schenectady and Poughkeepsie. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.
The New York State Department of Transportation led the efforts to transform the 94-mile Hudson Line from Schenectady to Poughkeepsie from a CSX freight-controlled line to an Amtrak-controlled line.
Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole notes the "transfer of power" paves the way for several significant rail improvement projects totaling $181 million...
For decades signals have been designed to freight standards, with all planning and construction subject to approval and control of CSX. Now, Amtrak can move ahead with plans to include a fourth track at the Rensselaer train station, a second track between Albany and Schenectady; new weather-resistant signals from Poughkeespie to Rensselaer, and a new train station in downtown Schenectady.
Cole says dispatching of trains will now move from CSX’s freight yard at Selkirk to Amtrak’s Command and Control Center in New York City. The contract ensures that passenger rail service has track scheduling priority.
Bruce Becker, President of the Empire State Passengers Association, praises the line transfer, calling it "an historic step forward for passenger rail in New York State.
Amtrak will now be able to improve the Hudson Line and take advantage of Federal Railroad Administration funding without the approval of CSX. The MTA will continue to be responsible for tracks south of Poughkeepsie.
Planning is expected to begin for a new Livingston Avenue bridge over the Hudson River in Albany to replace a structure dating from the Civil War.
Officials say all of the improvements will reduce congestion along the Empire Corridor from New York City to Niagara Falls and improve travel times, safety and reliability for passengers and freight.
The railroad says travel on Amtrak was the highest in its 41-year history in July 2012. All indications are that the trend will continue, especially since here in New York State investments in passenger rail infrastructure are being prioritized and built for the first time in decades. Albany-Rensselaer is Amtrak’s 5th busiest station in the nation. More than 1.65 million people traveled between Albany and New York City in 2012, up 3 percent from 2011