Amtrak and CSX Corp. signed a long-term lease agreement, enabling Amtrak to take full control of the Hudson Line between Schenectady, N.Y. and Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
The contract ensures that passenger rail service has scheduling priority there and paves the way for four significant rail improvement projects totaling $181 million. The improvements will reduce congestion along the Empire Corridor from New York City to Niagara Falls and improve travel times and reliability for passengers and freight.
$155.5 million of funding for these projects is being provided by the federal government, including $147.6 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. $23.15 million will come from New York State.
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) led the efforts to transform the 94-mile Hudson Line from Schenectady to Poughkeepsie from a freight-controlled line to an Amtrak-controlled line. For decades, signals have been designed to freight standards, and all planning and construction was subject to approval and control of the freight railroad. Dispatching of trains will now move from CSX’s freight yard at Selkirk to Amtrak’s Command and Control Center in New York City. Amtrak also can improve the Hudson Line and take advantage of Federal Railroad Administration funding without the approval of CSX.
Work already is under way on the projects being progressed jointly by NYSDOT and Amtrak.
The four projects are:
- Construction of an additional track between Rensselaer and Schenectady to significantly reduce congestion.
- Building a critically important fourth track at the Rensselaer Station to reduce congestion and delays.
- Grade crossing improvements along the Empire Corridor South to improve safety for motor vehicles and trains.
- Signal line improvements south of Albany to significantly improve the reliability of rail service, particularly during inclement weather. This is a $36.5 million project to replace more than 60 miles of obsolete signal wires, burying lines that now hang on poles along the rail line and replacing 30-year-old wiring with new underground power cable and electronic track circuits.