Release #08-06—April 1, 2008
Washington, D.C. April 1, 2008—The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) today urged NJ TRANSIT (NJT) to keep public needs in mind and restore earlier designs of its proposed Hudson River railroad tunnels.
In testimony delivered to a federally-required NJT hearing on a Supplementary Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the “Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel,” NARP executive director Ross Capon joined other citizen advocates by arguing that “it is essential that New York City’s existing Pennsylvania Station be accessible from the new tunnels. NJT abandoned this accessibility in a June 2007 project redesign, the rationale for which has been kept secret.”
Capon said, “Today’s security-conscious world cries out for the redundancy that NJT’s earlier design offered.”
Capon urged officials to consider the implications of temporary or extended closure of the existing Amtrak-owned tunnels used by both Amtrak and NJT trains. If the present plan is adopted, existing intercity trains could not operate nor could prospective inter-regional services like Trenton-Stamford.
Capon noted that not only would the project provide no additional intercity slots at Penn Station, it also precludes future investments aimed at providing such slots even though New York City is widely recognized as the nation’s “number one market where expanded intercity train service would help address demands for air service that are bumping up against airport and airspace capacity limits.”
In a separate statement, Albert L. Papp Jr., director and recording secretary of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers said, “Simply put, this once outstanding regionally comprehensive plan has devolved into nothing more than a six track ‘deep cavern’ annex to New York Penn Station beneath 34th Street for use ONLY by NJT trains.”
Similarly, Bruce B. Becker, president of the Empire State Passengers Association (ESPA) opposed the plan and urged NJT and Federal Transit Administration to advance the direct connection between the new Hudson River tunnels and Penn Station tracks and platforms described in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement issued in February 2007. ESPA also called for restarting the planning and environmental studies for a direct track connection between Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal, described as “Alternative G” in the Major Investment Study (MIS) phase of the planning process.”
NARP is the largest citizen-based organization advocating for train and rail transit passengers. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by 24,000 individual members.