Archive for the ‘commuter rail’ Category

MTA Metro-North Railroad Renews Study of Access to Penn Station

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

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Metro-North has announced that they are FINALLY reviving their Penn Station Access Study. The first part of study, formally called the Metro-North Penn Station Access Major Investment Study/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (MIS/DEIS), was carried out from 1999 to 2002. Since then, it seems it has been dormant. Railfans and transit planners used to speak about it in hushed tones and with tears in their eyes. The “DEIS” part of the study never came to fruition, even though it was promised for “Fall 2003”.

Now the study is back in a big way, with an Environmental Assessment (EA) scheduled for completion in 2011. Thankfully “analyses performed to date on [the proposed “Build”] alternative reveal no significant impacts that cannot be mitigated. Therefore, Metro-North has decided to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA), rather than an EIS.” That should save some time and money.

Click here for the press release: MTA Metro-North Railroad Renews Study of Access to Pennsylvania Station

The proposed “Build” alternative consists of Hudson Line service to Penn Station via Amtrak’s West Side line + Empire Connection, and New Haven Line service to Penn Station via the Hell Gate line. There would be five new stations built:

Hudson Line trains

  • West 125th Street
  • Upper West Side

New Haven Line trains

  • Co-op City
  • Parkchester
  • Hunts Point

Penn Station Access Build Alternative

I say that this service can’t come soon enough. For people who work near Penn Station or along the 8th Avenue IND or 7th Avenue IRT subway lines, this service could possibly significantly reduce their commuting times.

For a lot more information about the work done so far on this project (1999-2002), check out the Penn Station Access Study website on MTA.info. The site appears to have been updated to reflect that the EA will be done in 2011, and with a proposed “Build” alternative graphic that shows the station formerly called “West 59th Street” to now be called “Upper West Side”.

Bonus: a graphic from a past version of the Penn Station Access Study website.

connectivitymap

New Street Entrance To NJ Transit Concourse Opens At New York Penn Station

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

31st

NJ Transit finally opened yesterday its new entrance to Penn Station.

Summary info from the website:

The new entrance is located at the corner of 7th Avenue and West 31st Street at street level and is adjacent to the NJ TRANSIT Customer Service Office inside the station.

The new entrance will provide customers with direct access to and from our 7th Avenue Concourse for the first time.

The new entrance is fully accessible with ADA-compliant elevators, as well as escalators and stairs that connect the NJ TRANSIT concourse with the street at 7th Avenue.

The 31st Street entrance also includes lighting, signage and electronic train information displays for customer convenience.

I’ll have to go check it out soon. In the meantime, here’s an interior photo from NJT’s website, and some exterior photos I took back in July:

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MTA too busy tailgating to notice Press Release screw up

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

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MTA officials were too busy tailgating with NJ Transit officials at Penn Station New York today to notice the significant and glaring error in their all important press release.

The press release, meant to announce the beginning of both LIRR/MNCR+NJT joint-ticketing to the Meadowlands and direct Metro-North New Haven line service to Secaucus, is only successful with the former. That’s because the press release GOT THE DATE WRONG of the first direct New Haven line train!!!!

In addition, Metro-North will be introducing a new direct service from major New Haven Line stations to the Meadowlands (via Secaucus Junction) for football games starting at 1 p.m. From there, shuttle trains will bring fans directly to the new Meadowlands Station and the game. Metro-North New Haven line direct service begins as the regular season kicks off on Sunday, September 13 with the NY Giants/Washington Redskins game that starts at 1 p.m. [Emphasis added]

Good job, MTA. Way to go.

You see, the 9/13/2009 game actually starts at 4:15 PM, thus making it ineligible for direct New Haven line service. The correct start date of direct New Haven line service is Sunday, September 20, 2009, when the New York Jets host the New England Patriots with a 1:00 PM kickoff.

In case the MTA goes and corrects the press release, below is a screen shot with the offending material highlighted.

UN believable

UN believable

Real-time departure boards for NJT Secaucus Junction available online

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

DEPARTUREVISION

UPDATE: DepartureVision is actually online and working for possibly all stations in the system. Go here, click on a station, and then add “-mobile” after the “tid” part of the URL. Source: Railroad.net NJ Transit Rail forum

—————————–

New Jersey Transit has announced the trial implementation of real-time train arrival / departure boards available to mobile-internet users for the Secaucus Junction train station. It is being called DepartureVision™.

Using a mobile phone or device with internet capabilities, you can now see the upcoming arrivals / departures for the upper and lower levels (separately) of the Secaucus Junction station, including the scheduled arrival time, track assignment, and train status (on-time, 7 minutes late, etc.). A cool feature is that clicking on a train’s arrival time brings up a list of all the stops that train will be making after Secaucus Junction. Quite importantly, and as noted in the press release:

Customers who use the new Meadowlands Rail Line to travel to and from football games or major events will be able to check their Secaucus connections from Giants Stadium.

Score!

To see a large screen shot of what DepartureVision looks like, click the image below.

DepartureVision for the Upper Level of Secaucus Junction - click to see a higher resolution image

DepartureVision for the Upper Level of Secaucus Junction - click to see a higher resolution image

For much more information about this great new service, read the Customer Notice.

I hope this trial is very successful, and leads to DepartureVision being made available for all train stations in the New Jersey Transit rail system.

LIRR to offer joint ticket to Meadowlands Sports Complex Rail Station

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

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You can now buy and use a single train ticket to ride from stations on the Long Island Rail Road all the way to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey, home of Giants Stadium, a new football stadium to be named later, and the Izod Center (as well as the Meadowlands Racetrack and the unfinished Xanadu).

But be careful – even though New Jersey Transit will be running trains to the Meadowlands for events other than Giants and Jets football games, the LIRR thru-tickets are only “officially” valid for football game days. This may have something to do with the fact that, as the LIRR notes, you must show your rail ticket at the fare gates at Secaucus Junction, instead of feeding it through the turnstile, since the LIRR ticket stock does not have the magnetic stripe like the NJT ticket stock.

Read all about this LIRR/NJT joint ticketing initiative here: http://mta.info/lirr/pubs/TrainToTheGame/. That LIRR web page even features a nifty diagram of part of Penn Station, to help people make the LIRR -> NJT transfer. The other part of the graphic is an extremely simple route diagram of the rail service. You can see them below:

Click to see a bigger version

Click to see a bigger version

Oh, and Metro-North is doing the same thing. Even though they are running direct trains from the New Haven line to Secaucus Junction on the days of Sunday 1 PM games, you can also buy a joint ticket from any Metro-North station that you can use to get all the way to the Meadowlands. You will of course need to get from Grand Central Terminal to Penn Station New York in order to board a New Jersey Transit train to Secaucus. The brochure linked to in my recent post on this topic explains things in much much greater detail.

P.S. And no, you can’t buy an LIRR ticket from Penn Station New York to the Meadowlands. I know, because I tried it this evening. Would have been (pointlessly) cool though, in a railfanning kind of way.

Update: Here’s a good Newsday article on the topic of the joint-ticketing.

Metro-North brochure for Meadowlands Rail Service

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

TakeTrainFootBall_web

Metro-North Railroad has created a new brochure to explain their part of the direct service that they are planning to run with New Jersey Transit this fall. It is admittedly a complicated task to convey all of the options and nuances that they are trying to get across, but I think they did an okay job. The brochure is linked from a new web page Metro-North put up for this service. You can also download the PDF directly from this link: http://www.mta.info/mnr/html/SchedPDF_vWEB_Brochure.pdf

Edit: This brochure, in all its glossy printed glory, is available in the information boxes next to each of the upper level tracks at Grand Central Terminal, as of yesterday, August 19, 2009.

Meadowlands Rail Station Inaugural Train Ride and Opening Ceremony

Monday, July 20th, 2009

inaugural-ride

NJ Transit, the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, and the Port Authority of NY & NJ hosted an inaugural ride to the opening ceremony of the new Meadowlands Rail Station today. The inaugural train departed Hoboken at 1:25 PM, then departed Secaucus a few minutes late at about 1:45 PM, and arrived at the new Meadowlands station at 2:00 PM. Below are many of the photos I took during the day. Click on the thumbnail image to view the full size photograph.

Governor Jon S. Corzine, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, and New York Giants co-owner John Mara rode the train from Secaucus (as far as I can tell, because I didn’t see them board at Hoboken) and then spoke at the opening ceremony after. Various other politicians and officials were also present.

After the speeches, Governor Corzine cut the ribbon, symbolically opening the station for service.

The station itself is basic but nice.

Some people would like to see the line loop around the sports complex, but for now it unceremoniously dead ends.

At 3:00 PM, the inaugural train returned to Secaucus and Hoboken.

Revenue service to the Meadowlands Rail Station begins this Sunday for the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final match at 3:00 PM at Giants Stadium. The first train leaves Hoboken at 11:30 AM.

Official NJ Transit press release about today’s events: GOVERNOR CORZINE LAUNCHES RAIL SERVICE TO THE MEADOWLANDS

Meadowlands Rail Station Ribbon Cutting Today

Monday, July 20th, 2009

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A ribbon cutting ceremony and inaugural train ride to the new NJ Transit Meadowlands Rail Station is taking place today.

Penn Station receives escalator delivery

Thursday, July 9th, 2009
new escalator goes here

new escalator goes here

Walking past the construction site Monday, I saw that a door was open, allowing me to see and photograph (with cell phone camera) the empty space where a staircase once was, and where an additional escalator will hopefully soon be.

Then, that evening, I saw an escalator being delivered to Penn Station. As you can see in the photo above, not only is the old staircase gone, but the old escalator is gone too. So I’m not sure if this delivery is of a new escalator, or maybe of the old, but possibly refurbished, escalator. In any event, hopefully this moves the project along. I’m getting tired of wincing every time I see people struggling to carry large suitcases down the stairs (when there are clear signs pointing to other entrances with escalators).

escalator delivery - 30 minutes or it's free

escalator delivery - 30 minutes or it's free

NJT makes official announcement of start of Meadowlands rail service

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

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As I first posted two week ago, NJT rail service to the Meadowlands will begin on July 26, 2009. New Jersey Transit made the official announcement of this today.

An excerpt:

NJ TRANSIT ANNOUNCES OPENING DATE FOR NEW MEADOWLANDS RAIL SERVICE

Rail service to major Giants Stadium events begins July 26
July 8, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEWARK, NJ – NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Richard Sarles today announced the official start date for rail service to the Meadowlands Sports Complex, which will provide a new, convenient travel option for customers via Hoboken Terminal or Frank R. Lautenberg Station at Secaucus Junction.

Rail service to major events at Giants Stadium will launch Sunday, July 26, for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final championship soccer match.

“The startup of rail service to the Meadowlands Sports Complex is great news for New Jersey residents because it will be easier than ever to avoid roadway congestion and take our convenient public transportation system to world-class sporting and entertainment events,” said Governor Jon S. Corzine.

Though the official announcement was made today, NJT’s FYI monthly customer newsletter jumped the gun and announced it back in June.

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