Pennsylvania Station (also known as New York Penn Station or simply Penn Station) is the main intercity railroad station in New York City and the busiest transportation facility in the Western Hemisphere, serving more than 600,000 passengers per weekday as of 2019.[5][6][a] The station is located beneath Madison Square Garden in the block bounded by Seventh and Eighth Avenues and 31st and 33rd Streets and in the James A. Farley Building, with additional exits to nearby streets, in Midtown Manhattan. It is close to several popular Manhattan locations, including Herald Square, the Empire State Building, Koreatown, and Macy's Herald Square.

Pennsylvania Station
New York, NY
Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit terminal
Moynihan Train Hall
Main concourse under Madison Square Garden
Moynihan Train Hall (top) and the station's main concourse (below)
General information
LocationBounded by 7th & 9th Avenues and 31st & 33rd Streets
(under Madison Square Garden and in James A. Farley Building)
Midtown Manhattan, New York City
United States
Owned byAmtrak
Line(s)Northeast Corridor
Empire Corridor (West Side Line)
Platforms11 island platforms
Tracks21
Connections
Construction
AccessibleYes
Other information
Station codeAmtrak: NYP
IATA codeZYP
Fare zoneZone 1 (LIRR)
Zone 1 (NJ Transit)
History
Opened1910; 114 years ago (1910)
Rebuilt1963–1968; 56 years ago (1968)
Passengers
201727,296,100 annually[1][2] (NJT)
FY 20228,008,700 annually[3] (Amtrak)
201769,722,560 annually; based on average arrivals and departures[4] (LIRR)
Services
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
Newark Penn Acela Stamford
Vermonter Stamford
toward St. Albans
Newark Penn Northeast Regional New Rochelle
Yonkers
toward Montreal
Adirondack Terminus
Yonkers
toward Pittsfield
Berkshire Flyer
(seasonal)
Newark Penn
toward Chicago
Cardinal
Newark Penn
toward Charlotte
Carolinian
Newark Penn Crescent
Yonkers Empire Service
Yonkers
toward Burlington
Ethan Allen Express
Newark Penn
toward Harrisburg
Keystone Service
Croton–Harmon
toward Chicago
Lake Shore Limited
Yonkers
toward Toronto
Maple Leaf
Newark Penn
toward Savannah
Palmetto
Newark Penn
toward Pittsburgh
Pennsylvanian
Newark Penn
toward Miami
Silver Meteor
Silver Star
Preceding station Long Island Rail Road Following station
Terminus Port Washington Branch Woodside
Hempstead Branch Woodside
toward Hempstead
Port Jefferson Branch Woodside
Oyster Bay Branch
limited service
Jamaica
toward Oyster Bay
Ronkonkoma Branch Woodside
toward Greenport
Montauk Branch Jamaica
toward Montauk
Far Rockaway Branch Woodside
Babylon Branch Woodside
toward Babylon
West Hempstead Branch Woodside
Long Beach Branch Woodside
toward Long Beach
Preceding station NJ Transit Following station
Secaucus Junction
toward Trenton
Northeast Corridor Line Terminus
Secaucus Junction
toward Bay Head
North Jersey Coast Line
Secaucus Junction Montclair-Boonton Line
Morristown Line
Secaucus Junction Raritan Valley Line
Secaucus Junction
toward Gladstone
Gladstone Branch
Former services
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
Terminus Cape Codder
1986–1996
Stamford
toward Hyannis
Newark Penn
toward Tri-State
Hilltopper
1978–1979
Stamford
Newark Penn Metroliner
1971–2006
Terminus
Montrealer
1972–1995
Rye
toward Montreal
Newark Penn National Limited
1971–1979
Terminus
Newark Penn
toward Chicago
Broadway Limited
Until 1995
Three Rivers
1995–2005
Newark Penn National Limited
Preceding station NJ Transit Following station
Newark Penn Station Atlantic City Express Service Terminus
Future services
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
Newark Penn Northeast Regional Jamaica
toward Ronkonkoma
Preceding station Metro-North Railroad Following station
Terminus New Haven Line Sunnyside
toward Stamford
Interactive map
Map
Coordinates40°45′2″N 73°59′38″W / 40.75056°N 73.99389°W / 40.75056; -73.99389

Penn Station has 21 tracks fed by seven tunnels, including its two North River Tunnels, four East River Tunnels, and one Empire Connection tunnel. It is at the center of the Northeast Corridor, a passenger rail line that connects New York City with Boston to its north and Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. to its south, along with various intermediate stations. Intercity trains are operated by Amtrak, which owns the station, while commuter rail services are operated by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and NJ Transit (NJT). Connections are available within the complex to the New York City Subway and buses.

Penn Station is named for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), its builder and original owner, and shares its name with several stations in other cities. The original Pennsylvania Station was an ornate station building designed by McKim, Mead, and White and considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. Completed in 1910, it enabled direct rail access to New York City from the south for the first time. Its head house and train shed were torn down in 1963 at a time of low train ridership, with the rail infrastructure reconstituted as the smaller underground station that survives today. The New York Times editorial board described the demolition of the original station as a "monumental act of vandalism",[7] and its destruction galvanized the modern historic preservation movement.[8]

The 2020s saw the opening of Moynihan Train Hall, an expansion of Penn Station into the Farley Post Office building,[9] as well as expansion of the LIRR concourse and a new direct entrance from 33rd Street to the LIRR concourse.[10] Further plans call for adding railway platforms in a new southern annex to connect to two new Gateway Program tunnels under the Hudson River,[11] adding underground connections to the Herald Square station and with the PATH to the 33rd Street station,[12] and renovating the core Penn Station under Madison Square Garden.[13]

History edit

Planning and construction edit

 
Pennsylvania Station Excavation, a portrait by George Bellows (c. 1907–1908), now housed at the Brooklyn Museum

Until the early 20th century, the PRR's rail network terminated on the western side of the Hudson River (once known locally as the North River) at Exchange Place in Jersey City, New Jersey. Manhattan-bound passengers boarded ferries to cross the Hudson River for the final stretch of their journey.[14]

The rival New York Central Railroad's line ran down Manhattan from the north under Park Avenue and terminated at Grand Central Depot (later replaced by Grand Central Terminal) at 42nd Street.[15] Many proposals for a cross-Hudson connection were advanced in the late 19th century, but financial panics in the 1870s and 1890s scared off potential investors. In any event, none of the proposals advanced during this time were considered feasible.[16]

An early proposal for a bridge was considered but rejected.[17][18] The alternative was to tunnel under the river, but this was infeasible for steam locomotive use.[19] The development of the electric locomotive at the turn of the 20th century made a tunnel feasible. In 1901, PRR president Alexander Cassatt announced the railroad's plan to enter New York City by tunneling under the Hudson and building a grand station on the West Side of Manhattan south of 34th Street.[20] The station would sit in Manhattan's Tenderloin district, a historical red-light district known for its corruption and prostitution.[21]

Beginning in June 1903, the two single-track North River Tunnels were bored from the west under the Hudson River.[22] A second set of four single-track tunnels, the East River Tunnels, were bored from the east under the East River, linking the new station to Queens, the PRR-owned Long Island Rail Road, and Sunnyside Yard in Queens, where trains would be maintained and assembled.[23] Construction was completed on the Hudson River tunnels on October 9, 1906,[24] and on the East River tunnels on March 18, 1908.[25]

Original structure edit

 
The exterior of Penn Station in 1911
 
Penn Station's interior in the 1930s
 
One of few remnants of the original station still in use, a staircase between tracks 3 and 4

A small portion of Penn Station opened on September 8, 1910, in conjunction with the opening of the East River Tunnels, and LIRR riders gained direct railroad service to Manhattan.[26] On November 27, 1910, Penn Station was fully opened to the public.[27] With the station's full opening, the PRR became the only railroad to enter New York City from the south.[28]

During half a century of operation by the Pennsylvania Railroad (1910–1963), scores of intercity passenger trains arrived and departed daily to Chicago and St. Louis on "Pennsy" rails and beyond on connecting railroads to Miami and the west. Along with Long Island Rail Road trains, Penn Station saw trains of the New Haven and the Lehigh Valley railroads. A side effect of the tunneling project was to open the city up to the suburbs, and within 10 years of opening, two-thirds of the daily passengers coming through Penn Station were commuters.[21]

The station put the Pennsylvania Railroad at comparative advantage to its competitors offering direct service from Manhattan to the west and south. Other railroads began their routes at terminals in Weehawken, Hoboken, Pavonia and Communipaw which required passengers from New York City to take the interstate Hudson Tubes (now PATH) or ferries across the Hudson River before boarding their trains. By 1945, at its peak, more than 100 million passengers a year traveled through Penn Station.[21]

By the late 1950s, intercity rail passenger volumes had declined dramatically with the coming of the Jet Age and the Interstate Highway System. The station's exterior had become somewhat grimy, and due to its vast scale, the station was expensive to maintain.[29][30] A renovation covered some of the grand columns with plastic and blocked off the spacious central hallway with a new ticket office. The Pennsylvania Railroad optioned the air rights, which called for the demolition of the head house and train shed, to be replaced by an office complex and a new sports complex, while the tracks of the station would remain untouched.[b]

Plans for the new Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden were announced in 1962. In exchange for the air rights to Penn Station, the PRR would receive a smaller underground station at no cost and a 25 percent stake in the new Madison Square Garden Complex. Modern architects rushed to save the ornate building, but to no avail;[31] demolition of the above-ground head house began in October 1963.[32]

A giant steel deck was placed over the tracks and platforms to allow rail service to continue during construction. Photographs of the day showed passengers waiting for trains even as the head house was demolished around them.[29] This was possible because most of the rail infrastructure (including the waiting room, concourses, and boarding platforms) was below street level.[33]

The demolition of the Penn Station head house was controversial and caused outrage internationally.[34][7] "One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat," the architectural historian Vincent Scully famously wrote of the original station.[35] The controversy over the demolition of such a well-known landmark, and its deplored replacement,[36] is often cited as a catalyst for the architectural preservation movement in the United States.[8]

New laws were passed to restrict such demolition. Within the decade, Grand Central Terminal was protected under the city's new landmarks preservation act, a protection upheld by the courts in 1978 after a challenge by Grand Central's owner, Penn Central (the corporate successor of the PRR, following its merger with the rival New York Central Railroad).[37]

Under Madison Square Garden edit

 
Amtrak concourse in 1974

Post-1968, the core Penn Station has been underground, sitting below Madison Square Garden, 33rd Street, and Two Penn Plaza. The core has three levels: concourses on the upper two levels and train platforms on the lowest. The two levels of concourses, while renovated and expanded during the construction of Madison Square Garden, are original to the 1910 station, as are the tracks and platforms.[38]

Over the following decades, various renovations attempted to add service and some concourse space. The West End Concourse under Eighth Avenue opened in 1986.[39] In 1987, a rail connection to the West Side Rail Yard opened,[40] and in 1991, the opening of the Empire Connection allowed Amtrak to consolidate all of its New York City trains at Penn Station. Previously, all trains running along the Empire Corridor terminated at nearby Grand Central Terminal. This was a legacy of the two stations' roots in separate railroads–the PRR and New York Central, respectively. The consolidation saved Amtrak the expense of having to maintain two stations in New York City, including having to pay the MTA $600,000 in fees a year.[41][42][43]

In 1994, the station was renovated to add the 34th Street LIRR entrance and central corridor, along with artwork and improved waiting and concession areas.[44] The new entrance consisted of a 90-foot-tall (27 m) structure with a glass and brick facade, a clock salvaged from the original station, and air-conditioning units for the terminal.[45] In 2002, the NJ Transit concourse was created in space previously occupied by retail and Amtrak office space,[46] although the concourse could only be accessed from the Amtrak entrance on 32nd Street.[47] Plans for a new entrance from 31st Street to the NJ Transit concourse were announced in 2006,[48][49] and the entrance opened in 2009.[47][50]

After the September 11 attacks, security was increased and passenger flow curtailed. In 2002, $100 million of work added security features such as lighting, cameras, and barricades.[51] The taxiway under Madison Square Garden, which ran from 31st Street to 33rd Street at mid-block, was permanently closed off with concrete Jersey barriers. Escalators providing direct access to the lobby of Madison Square Garden were closed and later removed. The underground Gimbels Passageway connecting pedestrians to 34th Street–Herald Square has been sealed off since 1986,[52] after decades of safety concerns and sexual assaults.[53]

Despite the modest renovations, the underground Penn Station continued to be criticized as "reviled," "dysfunctional," and a low-ceilinged "catacomb" lacking charm, especially when compared to the much larger and more ornate Grand Central Terminal.[34] The New York Times, in a November 2007 editorial supporting development of an enlarged terminal, said that "Amtrak's beleaguered customers...scurry through underground rooms bereft of light or character,"[54] and Times transit reporter Michael M. Grynbaum called Penn Station "the ugly stepchild of the city's two great rail terminals."[30] After its nadir in the 1960s, ridership exploded in subsequent decades, a situation never contemplated by the structure's designers. By the 2010s, the station operated at almost three times its intended capacity; over 600,000 passengers used the station daily in 2019.[29]

Expansion and renovation edit

 
Steel-glass roof in April 2023

In the early 1990s, U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan proposed building a new station in the James A. Farley Building, the city's former main post office across the street which was designed by the same firm as the original Penn Station; Moynihan had shined shoes in the original station as a boy.[55][56][57] Many redevelopment or expansion concepts were proposed over the 1990s and 2000s, but none reached fruition until funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enabled the expansion of the West End Concourse of the LIRR under the Farley Building in 2016.[58] Building on it, in 2016 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans for the renovation of Penn Station and mixed-use redevelopment of the Farley Building, including development of a new train hall, which he called the Empire Station Complex.[59] The new expansion, Moynihan Train Hall, opened in January 2021, named for the man who had conceived it.[60] The $1.6 billion, 255,000-square-foot (23,700 m2) renovation retained the original, landmarked Beaux Arts Farley Building, added a central atrium with a glass roof, and provided access to Amtrak and LIRR trains.[61][9] A new 33rd Street entrance to the LIRR concourse opened at the same time.[10]

The station received a place in the world selection for the 2021 Prix Versailles in the passenger stations category.[62][63]

Following the opening of the 33rd Street entrance, the LIRR concourse was doubled in width, from 30 to 57 feet (9.1 to 17.4 m), and the ceilings raised to a minimum height of 18 feet (5.5 m).[64] To raise the ceiling, workers removed seven "head knockers,"[65] low-hanging steel beams which were part of the original Penn Station and were only 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m) above the concourse's floor.[66][67] In March 2023, the MTA declared the concourse substantially complete.[68] As part of the project, 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues will be permanently closed to vehicular traffic and converted into a pedestrian plaza.[69]

Services edit

 
A diagram of intercity and commuter rail services around New York City, showing Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal

The station is served by 1,300 arrivals and departures per day, twice the number than during the 1970s.[70] There are more than 600,000 subway, commuter rail and Amtrak passengers who use the station on an average weekday,[71][72] or up to 1,000 every ninety seconds.[30][73]: 498, 891  It is the busiest passenger transportation facility in the United States[74] and in North America.[73]: 890–891 

Intercity rail edit

Amtrak edit

 
An Amtrak platform at Penn Station

Amtrak owns the station and uses it for the following services:

All except the Acela, Northeast Regional and Vermonter originate and terminate at Penn Station. Amtrak normally uses tracks 5–12 alongside New Jersey Transit and shares tracks 13–16 with the LIRR and NJ Transit.

Commuter rail edit

Long Island Rail Road edit

The following Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) services originate and terminate at Penn Station:

All branches connect at Jamaica station except the Port Washington Branch. Jamaica station also connects to Airtrain JFK for service to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Normally, the LIRR uses tracks 17 to 21 exclusively and shares tracks 13 to 16 with Amtrak and NJT. The LIRR uses tracks 11 and 12 on rare occasions.

NJ Transit edit

 
NJ Transit ticket counter
 
A NJ Transit platform

The following NJ Transit Rail Operations (NJT) branches originate and terminate at Penn Station:

NJT normally uses tracks 1 to 4 exclusively, as these four tracks end at bumper blocks to their east. NJT shares tracks 5 through 12 with Amtrak, and occasionally uses tracks 13 to 16, which are shared with Amtrak and the LIRR.

Rapid transit edit

New York City Subway edit

Connections are available to the following New York City Subway stations:[75]

PATH edit

Connections are also available to the PATH system at 33rd Street station, under Sixth Avenue on Herald Square. The JSQ-33 and HOB-33 services terminate at 33rd Street on weekdays, and are combined into the JSQ-33 (via HOB) service on late nights, weekends and holidays.

Bus and coach edit

NYC Airporter provides bus transportation to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, and is authorized by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York City Department of Transportation.

New York City Bus edit

The following MTA Regional Bus Operations buses stop near Penn Station:[76]

Intercity coaches edit

Intercity bus service to and from Penn Station is provided by Vamoose Bus, Tripper Bus, and Go Buses. Vamoose Bus runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Bethesda, Maryland; Arlington, Virginia; and Lorton, Virginia.[77] Tripper Bus runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Bethesda, Maryland and Arlington, Virginia.[78] Go Buses runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Newton, Massachusetts and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Most intercity and commuter bus services to and from midtown Manhattan use the Port Authority Bus Terminal, located approximately 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) to the north of Penn Station.

Proposed Metro-North service edit

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to bring Metro-North Railroad commuter trains to Penn Station as part of its Penn Station Access project. The East Side Access project, which was completed in 2023, has freed up track and platform space at Penn Station by redirecting some LIRR trains from Penn Station to Grand Central Madison. This new capacity, as well as track connections resulting from the East Side Access project, will allow Metro-North trains on the New Haven Line to run to Penn Station via Amtrak's Hell Gate Bridge.[79]

Four new local Metro-North stations in the Bronx are planned as part of this project, at Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester/VanNest, and Hunts Point. The MTA also proposes a second service from the Metro-North's Hudson Line to Penn Station using Amtrak's West Side Line in Manhattan.[80] The Penn Station Access project would provide direct rides from Connecticut, Westchester County, the Lower Hudson Valley, and the Bronx to West Midtown; ease reverse-commuting from Manhattan and the Bronx to Westchester County, the Lower Hudson Valley, and Connecticut; and provide transportation service to areas of the Bronx without direct subway service.[81]

Station layout edit

 
Long Island Railroad concourse after renovation, 2023
 
The West End Concourse

Penn Station does not have a unified design or floor plan but rather is divided into separate Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit concourses with each concourse maintained and styled differently by its respective operator.[82] The Amtrak and NJ Transit concourses are located on the first level below the street level while the Long Island Rail Road concourse is two levels below street level.[83]

The main concourse, which was principally used by Amtrak until the opening of the Moynihan Train Hall, is at the west end of the station directly beneath Madison Square Garden.[83][84] It was created out of the original station's waiting rooms and main concourse, though few remnants of the original still exist in the space. It was renovated in the early 2000s in anticipation of Acela service and includes an enclosed waiting area for ticketed passengers with seats, outlets and Wi-Fi.[85] The ticketed waiting room underwent a $7.2 million renovation from 2019 to 2020 that was funded jointly between Amtrak and NJ Transit. The renovation included new furniture and fixtures that feature seats with electrical and USB outlets, an upgraded ceiling with new LED lighting, a new information desk, a second entrance in close proximity to the NJ Transit concourse that provides improved access towards the Seventh Avenue side of the Station, two new Passenger Information Display Systems boards that display NJ Transit departure information and a lactation suite for nursing mothers.[86]

The LIRR's connecting concourse runs below West 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, as it has since the original station opened in 1910.[87] Significant renovations were made to the LIRR areas over a three-year period ending in 1994,[88] including the opening of the Central Corridor passageway and the addition of a new entry pavilion on 34th Street.[89] The West End Concourse, west of Eighth Avenue, opened in 1986,[39] and was widened and lengthened to cover tracks 5 through 21 in 2017.[90]

The NJ Transit concourse near Seventh Avenue opened in 2002 out of existing retail and Amtrak office space.[91] A new street-level entrance to this concourse at the corner of 31st Street and Seventh Avenue opened in September 2009.[92] Previously, NJ Transit used space in the Amtrak concourse.[93]

In December 2017, Amtrak and Zyter released a mobile app called FindYourWay to help commuters navigate around Penn Station, though Zyter also plans to roll out the app at other large Amtrak stations.[94] The station's three providers use different official addresses for the station.

  • Amtrak: 351 West 31st Street
  • LIRR: 34th Street at 7th and 8th Avenues
  • NJ Transit: 31st Street and 7th Avenue

Tracks and surrounding infrastructure edit

Penn Station track layout
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
LD1
 
LD3
 
 
 
 
 
1A
 
3A
 
5A
 
2X
 
4X
 
6X
 
 
LD2
 
LD4
 
 
 
 
 
 
1E
3E
 
5E
 
 
2A
 
2
 
1X
 
3X
 
5X
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2E
 
4E
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1C
 
4C
 
6C
 
8C
 
10C
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2C
 
5C
 
7C
 
9C
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mail platform
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1D
 
 
 
4D
 
6D
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
7E
 
 
 
3D
 
 
 
5D
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Interlocking
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
F
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
M
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I
 
 
 
G
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
U
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
KN Interlocking
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Moynihan Train Hall
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
 
10
 
 
11
 
(Platform numbers)
1
3
 
5
 
7
 
9
 
11
 
13
 
15
 
17
 
 
 
 
20
 
 
(Track numbers)
2
 
4
 
6
 
8
 
10
 
12
 
14
 
16
 
18
 
 
19
 
 
21
 
(Track numbers)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
C Interlocking
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
JO Interlocking
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
2
 
 
3
4
 
 
 
Legend
Passenger service tracks
 
 
Yard/storage tracks

Note: Interlocking towers A, KN, C, and JO have been deactivated.

Source:[96]

Tracks 1–4 end at bumper blocks at the eastern end of the platform and have no access to the East River Tunnels and Amtrak's Sunnyside Yard in Queens, so they are used only by NJ Transit.[96] In normal operations, Amtrak and NJ Transit share tracks 5–12, all three railroads share tracks 13–16, and the LIRR has the exclusive use of tracks 17–21 on the north side of the station.[97][98]

From the east, the East River Tunnels' lines 1 and 2 (the more southerly tubes) can only access tracks 5–17 and are used by most Amtrak and NJ Transit trains, while the East River Tunnels' lines 3 and 4 (the more northerly tubes) can only access tracks 14–21 and are mostly used by LIRR. From the west, the North River Tunnels can access tracks 1–19, while the Empire Connection can only access tracks 1–9 and the LIRR's West Side Yard can only access tracks 10–21.[96]

All station tracks are powered by 12 kV overhead wire. Tracks 5–21 also have 750 V DC third rail.[99][100] Due to the lack of proper ventilation in the tunnels and station, only electric locomotives and dual-mode locomotives are scheduled to enter Penn Station.[101] Diesel-only NJT trains terminate at Hoboken Terminal or Newark Penn Station, and diesel-only LIRR trains terminate at or prior to Long Island City.

Trains on track 18 open their doors only on the north side (platform 10).[98]

2017–2018 service disruptions and track improvements edit

Since the early 2010s, Amtrak had planned to fix the deteriorating rails and infrastructure around Penn Station, but due to the prioritization of other projects, applied only minimal fixes.[102] In early 2017, this culminated in numerous power outages, derailments, and delays due to track maintenance delays. There were frequent service disruptions to train schedules caused by the deterioration of its tracks and their supporting infrastructure, as well as in those of the East River and North River tunnels that respectively connect the station to Long Island and New Jersey.[103]

A string of early 2017 service disruptions started on March 23, 2017, when an Acela train derailed, causing delays for the day.[104] On April 3, a NJ Transit train derailed at a known problem site, where repairs had been deferred.[103] This caused four days of reduced service along the Northeast Corridor for both Amtrak and NJ Transit, because the incident damaged the switch that connects Tracks 1–8 to the North River tunnels.[105] This closure caused a cascading failure, delaying Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road trains on the unaffected tracks.[104][106]

On April 14, a New Jersey Transit train became stuck in the North River tunnels, causing the station to grow crowded with waiting passengers. After an Amtrak police officer used a Taser on a man who was acting disruptively, rumors of gunshots sparked a stampede that injured 16 people.[107][108] Following the stampede, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer called on Amtrak to centralize law enforcement response.[109]

As a result of these incidents, the Long Island Rail Road had proposed taking over Penn Station from Amtrak to improve maintenance,[110] and New Jersey has suggested withholding state payments to Amtrak.[104] Amtrak has discussed accelerating major maintenance work, even at the cost of further disruptions, to more quickly stabilize infrastructure and decrease more future incidents that could potentially cause even greater disruption.[104]

On April 28, 2017, Amtrak announced that it would perform some track maintenance during the summer[109] over a period of one and a half months.[111] Five tracks were closed for repairs as part of the reconstruction work, severely reducing track capacity in a situation media outlets deemed "the summer of hell".[112][113] Many affected NJ Transit passengers were diverted to take the PATH instead.[114] Some Amtrak trains from the Empire Corridor were routed to Grand Central instead of Penn Station.[115] Regular service resumed on September 5, 2017.[116][117]

Amtrak made further improvements to Penn Station's trackage in summer 2018. As a result, some Empire Corridor trains were rerouted again to Grand Central.[118] The Lake Shore Limited and Cardinal to Chicago were truncated or rerouted because of this work.[119]

33rd St to 34th St subway cross-section
11th Av 10th & 9th Avs
are skipped

Farley Building &
Moynihan Train Hall
8th Av Madison Square
Garden
7th Av Storefronts 6th Av &
Broadway
5th & Madison Avs
are skipped
Park Av
mezzanine train hall A / C / E concourse 1 / 2 / 3 Former Gimbel's
passageway
mezz PATH 6 / <6>
mezzanine conc mezzanine concourse mezzanine N / Q / R / W
7 / <7> Penn Station (Platform Level) B/D/F/<F>/M


Planning and redevelopment edit

 
Passenger congestion in the LIRR concourse, 2016

Resurgence of train ridership in the 21st century has pushed the current Pennsylvania Station structure to capacity, leading to several proposals to renovate or rebuild the station, often characterized as correcting for the 1960s demolition of the original facility.[120]

In 2013, the Regional Plan Association and Municipal Art Society formed the Alliance for a New Penn Station. Citing overcrowding and the limited capacity of the current station under Madison Square Garden, the Alliance began to advocate for limiting the extension of Madison Square Garden's operating permit to ten years.[121] In May 2013, four architecture firms released concepts for redeveloping Penn Station without Madison Square Garden above it, by moving the Garden a few blocks southwest to the Morgan Postal Facility,[122] to the area south of the James Farley Post Office,[122] or to a new pier west of Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Madison Square Garden officials rejected the idea of moving the facility, calling the plans "pie-in-the-sky,"[122] but on July 24, 2013, the New York City Council voted 47–1 to give the Garden a ten-year operating permit, after which the owners would have to move or seek permission anew.[123]

In January 2016, at the same time he announced the development of Moynihan Train Hall, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced that requests for proposals would be solicited for the redevelopment of the station under the Garden, which would be a public-private partnership called the Empire Station Complex. Investors would be granted commercial rights to the station in exchange for paying building costs.[124][125]

In June 2023, nearing the end of the ten-year permit granted in 2013, the MTA, along with Amtrak and NJ Transit, filed a report stating that Madison Square Garden is no longer compatible with Penn Station, saying, "MSG's existing configuration and property boundaries impose severe constraints on the station that impede the safe and efficient movement of passengers and restrict efforts to implement improvements, particularly at the street and platform levels."[126] On September 14, 2023, the New York City Council voted 48–0 to renew the operating permit for Madison Square Garden for five years, the shortest-ever granted by the city to the Garden.[127]

Southern expansion edit

In January 2020, Governor Cuomo unveiled a proposed southern annex to Penn Station, part of his vision for the Empire Station Complex. The annex would include eight additional tracks with four platforms and would involve demolishing the entire block bounded by 30th and 31st streets between Seventh and Eighth avenues, directly south of the existing station, as well as parts of the two blocks to the east and west.[128][129][11][130] The new tracks would connect to and take advantage of the new capacity provided by the Hudson River tunnels built as part of the Gateway Program. This new southern terminal, which would require federal approvals and could cost as much as $16.7 billion, has not proceeded;[131] the necessity of new tracks has been debated, in light of studies by regional advocacy groups and the railroads themselves suggesting that service improvements to enable regional through-running could similarly boost capacity.[132]

Station reconstruction edit

In April 2021, MTA officials under governor Andrew Cuomo proposed two options to reconstruct the Penn Station building under Madison Square Garden, to be financed by the development of 10 new office and residential towers in the surrounding neighborhood. One concept would retain the existing two-level concourse; the other envisioned a taller single-level concourse with a multi-story glass atrium in the former midblock taxiway. Both plans would improve passenger circulation and platform access, and could demolish the Hulu Theater for a new Eighth Avenue entrance.[133][134][13] Some of the plan's opponents alleged the tower development would disproportionately benefit real-estate firm Vornado Realty Trust, which would redevelop several buildings without paying property taxes.[135][136]

In November 2021, after Cuomo resigned, governor Kathy Hochul announced plans to hasten the reconstruction to take place before construction of a southern annex, and to slightly reduce the size of the office tower development. Hochul's plan selected the one-level concourse alternative,[137][138] and in June 2022, Hochul and New Jersey governor Phil Murphy announced a call for architects and engineers to submit preliminary designs.[135][139] John McAslan was announced as designer that September.[140][141]

In February 2023, Vornado declared it would no longer invest in new office space at that time due to high interest rates and lack of demand following the COVID-19 pandemic,[142] and in June 2023 Hochul announced that Penn Station reconstruction would be "decoupled" from any office tower development, presumably financed in other ways, and she announced the "kickoff" of a renewed design process.[143] That same June, private developer ASTM North America unveiled an unsolicited alternative reconstruction plan, which would focus on creating both a 55-foot tall Eighth Avenue entrance and a 105-foot tall midblock atrium, and which would be financed by both private investment from ASTM and government funding sources.[144]

Gateway Program edit

The Gateway Program is the planned expansion and renovation of the Northeast Corridor between Newark, New Jersey, and New York City to alleviate the bottleneck under the Hudson River and allow for refurbishment of the existing North River Tunnels. Two new tunnels would add 25 cross-Hudson train slots during rush hours and could connect to a 7-track, 4-platform terminal annex to Penn Station to its south.[145] Some previously planned improvements were also incorporated into the Gateway plan.[145][146]

The Gateway Program was unveiled in 2011, one year after the cancellation of the somewhat-similar Access to the Region's Core (ARC) project, and was originally projected to cost $14.5 billion and take 14 years to build.[146] Construction of a "tunnel box" that would preserve right-of-way on Manhattan's West Side began in September 2013, using $185 million in recovery and resilience funding awarded after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.[147] In 2015, Amtrak said that damage done to the existing trans-Hudson tunnels by Sandy had made their replacement urgent.[148][149] That year, Amtrak reported that environmental and design work was underway, estimated the project cost at $20 billion, and said construction would last four to five years.[150]

A draft environmental impact statement was released in July 2017,[151][152] but the Trump administration delayed consideration of it. Unblocking the project was a stated priority of the Biden administration,[153] and the project was approved in May 2021.[154] Federal funding was anticipated from the Biden administration's Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which became law in November 2021.[155] The first federal funding was announced by President Biden in 2023, with the federal government committing as much as $11 billion of the $16.1 billion price tag[156][157] and the states of New York and New Jersey agreeing to split the rest.[158] Construction began in late 2023.[159]

See also edit

References edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ The breakdown of Penn Station's ridership:
    • Commuter and intercity rail comprise about 355,000 daily weekday passengers.
      • LIRR has an average of 233,340 daily weekday passengers.
      • NJ Transit has an average of 93,305 daily weekday passengers.
      • Amtrak has an average of 28,487 daily passengers, when annual totals are averaged.
    • The two subway stations have a combined average of approximately 200,000 daily weekday passengers. However, this only includes entries and not exits.
    • The remainder of the ridership, around 75,000 passengers, may use other transportation such as buses, taxis, or ride-sharing, and may include passengers exiting from the subway.
  2. ^ The Railway and Engineering Review article says at their highest the station tracks were nine feet below sea level.

Citations edit

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