The Empire Corridor is a term used to refer to the approximately 460-mile (740 km) railroad corridor between Niagara Falls, New York and New York City, including the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Schenectady and Albany. Amtrak's Empire Service and Maple Leaf serve the entire length of the corridor, with the Maple Leaf continuing to Toronto. Metro-North Railroad's Hudson Line provides commuter rail service between Poughkeepsie, New York and Grand Central Terminal. The line is electrified by both overhead catenary and top-contact third rail between Penn Station and 41st Street and by under-contact third rail between Spuyten Duyvil and Croton–Harmon.
If the proposed high-speed service were built on the corridor, trains traveling between Buffalo and New York City would travel at speeds of up to 125 mph (201 km/h). In the 1890s service on the Empire State Express service between New York City and Buffalo was about 1 hour faster than Amtrak's service in 2013. On September 14, 1891 the Empire State Express covered the 436 miles (702 km) between New York City and Buffalo in 7 hours and 6 minutes (including stops), averaging 61.4 mph (98.8 km/h), with a top speed of 82 mph (132 km/h).
The Empire Corridor is largely owned by CSX Transportation (CSX), which owns the trackage between Niagara Falls and Poughkeepsie. South of Poughkeepsie, Metro-North owns the trackage to Yonkers, from which Amtrak owns the trackage into Pennsylvania Station.
On October 18, 2011, Amtrak and CSX announced an agreement for Amtrak to lease, operate and maintain the CSX-owned trackage between Poughkeepsie and Schenectady. Amtrak officially assumed control of the line on December 1, 2012.
Current passenger services
The busiest segment of the Empire Corridor is between New York City and Albany with multiple trains per day.
The following trains operate along the varied segments of the corridor:
- Empire Service: local service along the entire corridor from New York City to Niagara Falls. Most trains operate along the southern segment between New York and Rensselaer, with two trains in each direction continuing west to Niagara Falls daily.
- Ethan Allen Express: three trains in each direction daily from New York City to Rutland, splitting from the corridor in Rensselaer.
- Adirondack: New York City to Montreal, splitting from the corridor in Rensselaer.
- Lake Shore Limited: New York City to Chicago, splitting from the corridor at Depew, though half of the train splits off in Rensselaer to continue east to Boston.
- Maple Leaf: daily service from New York City to Toronto, operating on the entire corridor.
Freight service is provided by CSX Transportation.
- John Lienhard. "Rain, Steam & Speed: Inventing Powered Motion". Retrieved 2007-01-28.
- "GREAT SPEED Off THE CENTRAL.; Empire State Express Engine Travels at the Rate of 112 1-2 Miles an Hour" (PDF). New York Times. 1893-05-12. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
- Amtrak system timetable, Fall 2010/Winter 2011, page 25
- "Amtrak to lease Empire Corridor trackage from CSX". Trains Magazine. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
- "Governor Cuomo Announces Hudson Rail Lease - Amtrak/CSX Deal Will Improve Passenger Service, Move Projects Forward" (PDF) (Press release). Albany, New York: Amtrak. 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
- Empire Corridor, New York State Department of Transportation
- Empire Corridor section of the Federal Railroad Administration website