Thursday, September 06, 2012

Metro-North courts Bronx for proposed service

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Metro-North Railroad is holding four information sessions in the Bronx to solicit input—and, more pointedly, political support—for running some of its New Haven Line trains on Amtrak’s Hell Gate route into New York-Penn Station.

Metro-North east-of-Hudson services originate or terminate at Grand Central Terminal, but the railroad would like to mimic Amtrak service patterns to access customers in the eastern Bronx, and offer New Haven Line passengers a choice of terminals.

The effort is being supported by the Bronx Borough President’s office. Metro-North says the public information sessions “will provide residents with an update on Metro-North's ongoing Penn Station Access environmental assessment, including concepts for four proposed stations that would serve Morris Park, Co-op City, Hunts Point, and Parkchester and provide connections to Penn Station, Westchester, and Connecticut.” At two of the sessions, Morris Park and Parkchester, the New York City Department of City Planning also will provide updates on its Sustainable Communities study related to these proposed station areas.

The first session will be held Sept. 10 in Morris Park, with the last, in Parkchester, scheduled for Oct. 22. More information is available on the Metro-North website at mta.info/mta/planning/psas/.

Skeptics note that the Long Island Rail Road may not yield slots at Penn Station easily to its younger railroad sibling, even though LIRR itself is preparing to send some trains to Grand Central Terminal with the opening of East Side Access (ESA). Some Long Island political figures, along with some Long Island commuter advocates, have openly objected to allowing Metro-North trains to reach Penn Station, rejecting ESA’s establishment as any kind of trade-off or quid pro quo.

Amtrak officials, by contrast, privately have indicated a willingness to work with Metro-North to route trains on Amtrak’s right-of-way over Hell Gate Bridge.

Unlike much of its other equipment, Metro-North New Haven Line trains, including the new M-8s, are equipped to run using both third rail and overhead catenary for power. Amtrak’s Hell Gate section is equipped with overhead catenary, as is the New Haven Line itself, with 12kV 60Hz on both portions of the route.