An Amtrak train on the Maple Leaf route, which runs from New York to Toronto. Photo courtesy of Diego3336 via Flickr.
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $149.3 million to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to upgrade high-speed and intercity passenger rail service on the Empire Corridor.
The improvements will increase capacity and reliability, while reducing delays and travel time on several Amtrak routes, including the Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited, Maple Leaf, Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express.
A first grant, for $91.2 million, will allow NYSDOT to add a 17-mile second mainline track between the Albany-Rensselaer and Schenectady stations. The existing single track causes significant delays, requiring trains to wait up to 26 minutes for the rail line to clear when another train is traveling in the opposing direction. Construction is expected to begin in late summer 2012.
A second grant, for $58.1 million, will fund track and platform improvements at the Albany-Rensselaer and Schenectady stations, as well as the relocation of signal wires on the Hudson Line, which have been prone to outages. These improvements will result in greater reliability and on-time performance, more flexibility in train schedules and reduced congestion between freight and passenger trains. The Schenectady Station improvements are part of a downtown revitalization program.
Improvements to both stations are expected to begin in late summer 2012.