Amtrak awards contract for preliminary design of railroad infrastructure

Amtrak have awarded a contract for preliminary designs that will support the first New York Penn Station expansion in more than a century.

Passengers waiting for an Amtrak train in New York

Credit: Amtrak

In a major step forward for the redevelopment and expansion of New York Penn Station, Amtrak, in partnership with NJ TRANSIT and in coordination with MTA, has entered into a contract with global engineering, consulting and design firm Arup to begin designing options for the first new tracks, platforms and concourses connected to New York Penn Station in more than a century.

The work is part of the overarching plan under the Gateway Programme to roughly double capacity into Penn Station from the west, relieving a major bottleneck on the North East Corridor by allowing more trains to serve the nation’s busiest rail facility and improving reliability for customers. This substantive railroad-focused work is a seminal piece of a larger undertaking to improve the existing station and expand the facility for the future, plans for which are being developed by Amtrak and its partners in New York and New Jersey.

“Beginning the design of Penn Station expansion on the heels of last week’s announcement by Governors Hochul and Murphy shows that the new era for New York train travellers and commuters is no longer on the horizon, it’s here now and we are getting to work,” Tony Coscia, Board Chair for Amtrak, said. “An expansion of the tracks and platforms at Penn Station will help reduce our carbon footprint, create new jobs, and improve how people in the region work, live and travel.”

“New York Penn Station is tremendously important to Amtrak, and as owners of the facility we are committed to ensuring its future for a new generation of intercity rail travellers and daily commuters,” Stephen Gardner, CEO of Amtrak, said. “We are eager to begin this important work with our partners that will help unlock service increases under the Gateway Programme. Together we can develop a modern, holistic vision for an expanded station that integrates with an improved Penn Station and the community and improves the whole station experience.”

The preliminary design effort begins immediately and will produce railroad concepts to be analysed as part of the Federal environmental review for Penn Station expansion. The design will focus on development of new tracks and platforms, escalators and other vertical circulation elements, pedestrian concourses, and connections to existing and future facilities.

The design team will coordinate closely with Amtrak’s partners and the various planners and designers of other projects taking place throughout the Penn Station complex to integrate schedules and streamline delivery of work for all parties. The design is expected to take approximately two years and cost approximately $73 million.

“The expansion of Penn Station New York is critical to ensuring the pre-eminence of the New York region as the centre of global commerce,” Kevin S. Corbett, President & CEO of NJ TRANSIT, said. “Ridership has tripled from 200,000 in 1968 to 600,000 today. The existing station, even when fully renovated, will still be woefully inadequate to meet current demand much less the anticipated growth for the coming decades. This design work is the foundation upon which this vital expansion project will be built and sets the stage to realising the full benefits the Gateway Programme will deliver to this region.”

The railroad concepts developed in the design effort will be evaluated as part of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), including requirements for public comment and engagement. The environmental review is expected to be led by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) with support from Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT and could begin as soon as this year.

The design team led by Arup and including Grimshaw, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Hatch LTK, and Lendlease has experience developing and implementing iconic projects around the world including HS2 Euston Station in London; Fulton Centre, Hudson Yards and Second Avenue Subway in New York; Southern Cross and Metro Martin Place in Australia; Kings Cross Station in London; the Union Square Development at Kowloon Station in Hong Kong. The team draws on years of experience with projects that deliver value through improved mobility, enriched quality of life and an enhanced public realm.

“We’re proud to partner with Amtrak on one of the most ambitious, technically challenging, and necessary proposals in New York’s history,” Gillian Blake, Arup Principal and Project Manager, said. “Penn Station’s expansion, in concert with the larger Gateway Programme and Governor Hochul’s recently announced reconstruction plan, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to upgrade the station’s capacity and provide a world-class passenger experience. Our goal is to create a place that is easily navigable and accessible, and supports future growth in capacity, while maintaining and enhancing safe and efficient rail operations. Penn Station will be a civic asset for the wider community and the hundreds of thousands of daily riders.”