New York, New York
Sir - I refer to Alan Levitt’s letter about Grand Central Terminal (RG 2.99 p78). Unfortunately, there are several factual errors which need to be corrected.
The terminal was opened for service in November 1913 as the third station in that location. The first two stations were replaced not because of ’megalomania’ but because the growth of ridership demanded it. It should be noted that I refer to the first two stations as ’station’ since there was provision for a rail connection south of the stations along Park Avenue. This was usually a horsecar service, in order to maintain the New York & Harlem Railroad franchise in the city. The tunnel under Park Avenue just south of the terminal was originally constructed as a tramway tunnel for this service.
The circumferential driveway was constructed in 1926-28 as part of a comprehensive joint city and railroad project to widen Park Avenue south of 57th Street. The work was part of the original plans for the terminal but financing was not available to progress it until the railroad made plans to construct its new office building between 45th and 46th Streets and Park Avenue. To accommodate this building (now known as the ’Helmsley’ building) the roadway of Park Avenue was raised and routed alongside the terminal. The railroad built the structure and the city reimbursed the railroad for a significant portion of the costs.
The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad was never an owner of the terminal. It was always a tenant and its traffic while high, was always eclipsed by the New York Central’s. I do not understand the comment that the New Haven ’took significantly greater advantage of the electrification’. From the time the railroad was electrified in 1906 until 1957, the only way a train could get into the terminal was by means of electric power. In 1957, the New Haven introduced the FL9 diesel-electric/electric locomotive. While called ’dual mode,’ in reality most drivers operated them as straight diesel-electrics into the terminal. On that basis, perhaps we can say that the New Haven took less advantage of the electrification!
The City of New York also never was an owner of the terminal. Ownership was always with the New York & Harlem Railroad, who is still the owner! The New York & Harlem leases the terminal to American Premier Underwriters (the new name for Penn Central Corp) who in turn lease it to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The lease will expire on December 31, 2104. Metro-North Railroad, which is an agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, operates the terminal.
As to transfers from railroad to subway, approximately 33% of the railroad’s approximately 100000 daily riders have joint railroad/subway ticketing. I think that 33000 riders is a significant number in anyone’s estimation.
Michael W Savchak, PE
Deputy Director of Transportation Engineering
New York, USA