Amtrak Acela Express crosses the Hell Gate Bridge that links Queens with the Bronx (Photo: Amtrak)

Photo: Amtrak

USA: New York MTA has awarded a 63-month design and build contract to a joint venture Halmar International and RailWorks for work on the Penn Station Access programme.

To be completed within a budget of $2∙9bn, the programme covers the four-tracking of a 30 km section of Amtrak’s Hell Gate line which links New York with Westchester as part of the Northeast Corridor. This will enable Metro-North commuter trains to share the route with Northeast Regional and Acela Express inter-city services.

Amtrak is contributing $500m to the project, which is due for completion in 2026.

The Hell Gate line passes through residential districts in the Bronx. Four new stations are to be built at Hunts Point, Parkchester/Van Nest, Morris Park and Co-op City. Other work packages within the programme include four bridge renewals; remodelling of Metro-North’s New Rochelle yard; alterations to the layout of five other junctions; five new and two refurbished substations; and the renewal of signalling, power supply and telecoms assets.

Metro-North services would use some of the capacity at Penn Station that is due to be freed up in 2023 when some Long Island Rail Road trains are diverted to serve the deep-level terminus at Grand Central Terminal being built under the $11bn East Side Access scheme. Currently GCT is Metro-North’s only Manhattan hub.

‘Access to Penn Station is completely transformative for Metro-North and we are excited to begin the service upon completion of the project’, said Catherine Rinaldi, President of MTA Metro-North Railroad when the contract award was announced on December 15. ‘This will be the railroad’s largest expansion in history — four new stations is no small thing. This gives Metro-North’s busiest line a second route into Manhattan for the first time, redundancy that’s all the more important as the railroad looks to pursue major capital renewal projects on the route to Grand Central — namely the Park Avenue Viaduct and the Park Avenue Tunnel.’

‘This is a watershed moment for transit-starved communities in the east and south Bronx and the Sound Shore communities of Westchester’, added Senator for New York Chuck Schumer. ‘It will connect these communities with quick, reliable, one-seat commuter rail service into midtown Manhattan and employment centres in Westchester and Connecticut.’