National Train Day is a few days away, but there's plenty for rail fans and commuters to celebrate today. DOT, Amtrak, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have announced the award of a key contract to begin Phase 1 construction at New York's Moynihan Station.
This facility, sure to become one of America's great train stations, is being built from what was the James Farley U.S. Post Office, which readers may know from its famous inscription:
"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
What could be more appropriate for the eventual home of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, whose trains are already the swiftest in the nation?
During the past three years, we’ve invested more than $3 billion in the Northeast Corridor to increase reliability and cut trip times. And, after Amtrak purchases next-generation trains, passengers will travel at world-class speeds, reaching over 160 miles an hour in some segments.
Federal funding will also relieve delays for trains going in and out of Manhattan. Improvements to the Harold Interlocking rail junction in Queens, America’s busiest passenger rail junction, will soon eliminate congestion and allow for the growth of the high-speed service we’re developing.
And this is just the beginning. The Northeast Corridor Commission is shaping a clear vision for future development that will make the NEC even more effective and reliable than it is today. The Moynihan Station, reborn from one of America's most beloved post office buildings, will be a key part of that vision.
The need for a transportation vision that includes passenger rail is very real. By 2050, our country will be home to 100 million more Americans. When you look at the strain congestion already puts on our economy--nearly $130 billion each year and growing--it's clear that rail has an increasing role to play.
In fact, Amtrak's ridership--on pace for its 9th record-smashing year in a decade--tells us that travelers are already looking to rail for solutions.
And the Obama Administration is listening. The American rail renaissance is well underway, and this year alone, $2.3 billion in federally-funded rail projects are under construction or set to break ground.
Today, we are pleased to include Phase 1 of the Moynihan Station on that list.
We know that when passenger service is reliable, affordable, and safe, people choose rail. And when we add to those qualities a centerpiece station that is conveniently located, easy to navigate, and customer-friendly, even more travelers will ride the rails.
New York's original Pennsylvania Station was once heralded as a "temple of transportation." When the ribbon is cut on the new Moynihan Station, the Big Apple is sure to have another grand gateway.