Trans-Hudson Rail Tunnel Hopes Linger

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure that includes a minimum of $15 million for Amtrak to begin design and engineering work on the Gateway Tunnel project, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced today.

“When Governor Christie cancelled the ARC tunnel last year, New Jersey was thrown into a transportation crisis with no solution to meet our state’s growing transit needs and to break the gridlock on our congested highways,” Lautenberg said. “Amtrak is a reliable partner that is stepping up to meet our region’s transportation demands, and I am proud to be working with them on a new trans-Hudson tunnel. This funding would allow Amtrak to get to work on a new tunnel that will create jobs, increase access to commuter trains for a growing population of transit riders, and bring real high-speed rail to New Jersey and the Northeast Corridor.”

Increased traffic and congestion into midtown Manhattan threatens the economy of northern New Jersey and the entire region, the senator says. The existing 100-year old rail tunnels into midtown Manhattan are already operating at capacity during rush hour, and ridership is expected to double in the next two decades.

To address these immediate concerns following the cancellation of the ARC Tunnel project and with the encouragement of Lautenberg, Amtrak expedited plans to build the new trans-Hudson rail tunnels. In addition to increasing the number of NJ Transit and Amtrak trains into and out of New York, the project would also expand intercity and high-speed rail access, providing world-class, high-speed rail service on the Northeast Corridor.

The Gateway Project is expected to increase NJ Transit commuter rail capacity into New York by 65 percent (increase from 20 to 33 trains per hour during peak hours), in addition to adding eight additional Amtrak trains during peak hours. The new tunnels would connect to the new Moynihan station as well as to a new Penn Station South that is connected to the existing New York Penn station, which has reached its capacity.

It remains to be determined if the Gateway Project will receive full congressional support. House Republicans have advocated a plan that would privatize Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

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