Monday, July 02, 2012

Penn Station "upgrade" plans float yet again

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Local New York-area media report MTA Long Island Rail Road seeks to revamp Penn Station yet again in an effort to upgrade architectural quality and attract more upscale customer retail services. Unlike previous upgrades, however, the LIRR seeks to pursue improvements in conjunction with Penn Station's other major users, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.

The three railroads are coordinating efforts through the Penn Station Vision project, overseen by AECOM, to develop plans for a revitalized West Side Terminal, both independent of and in conjunction with plans to develop Moynihan Station, across Eighth Avenue from the existing station. AECOM is expected to deliver its report by the end of the year.

LIRR President Helena Williams believes the changes, if any, would be phased in as funding and conditions permit, possibly extending over decades. Williams was quoted saying she hopes some funding will be included for such work in the next MTA five-year capital program, beginning in 2015.

LIRR's sister railroad, Metro-North, and parent MTA are exploring options to have some Metro-North trains serve Penn Station, as well, once LIRR begins service to Metro-North's own major rail hub, Grand Central Terminal, following the completion of East Side Access.

LIRR is by far the dominant provider of train service to Penn Station, but the station also is the busiest in Amtrak's intercity system and New Jersey Transit's statewide rail network.