Pennsylvania Station (New York City)
Pennsylvania Station, also known as New York Penn Station or Penn Station, is the main intercity railroad station in New York City and the busiest in the Western Hemisphere, serving more than 600,000 passengers per weekday as of 2019[update].[a] Penn Station is in Midtown Manhattan, close to Herald Square, the Empire State Building, Koreatown, and Macy's Herald Square. Entirely underground, the station is located in Midtown South beneath Madison Square Garden, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, and between 31st and 33rd Streets, with additional exits to nearby streets.
Penn Station has 21 tracks fed by seven tunnels (the two North River Tunnels, the four East River Tunnels, and the single Empire Connection tunnel). It is at the center of the Northeast Corridor, a passenger rail line that connects New York City with Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and intermediate points. Intercity trains are operated by Amtrak, which owns the station, while commuter rail services are operated by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and NJ Transit (NJT). Connections are available within the complex to the New York City Subway, and buses. An underground passageway formerly provided an indoor connection with the 34th Street–Herald Square subway station and 33rd Street PATH station.
Penn Station is named for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), its builder and original tenant, and shares its name with several stations in other cities. The current facility is the remodeled underground remnant of the original Pennsylvania Station, a more ornate station building designed by McKim, Mead, and White and considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. Completed in 1910, it enabled direct rail access to New York City from the south for the first time. Its head house was torn down in 1963, galvanizing the modern historic preservation movement. The rest of the station was rebuilt in the following six years, while retaining most of the rail infrastructure from the original station.
Future plans for Penn Station include adding railway platforms at the station's south end to accommodate two proposed Gateway Program tunnels. Plans also call for adding entrances and concourses to the adjacent James A. Farley Building. The Farley Post Office was built as a companion to the 1910 station. Moynihan Train Hall, part of the Empire Station Complex, will add new concourses for the LIRR and Amtrak within the Farley Post Office building and is being built in phases.
Planning and construction (1901–1910)
Until the early 20th century, the PRR's rail network terminated on the western side of the Hudson River (once known locally as the North River) at Exchange Place in Jersey City, New Jersey. Manhattan-bound passengers boarded ferries to cross the Hudson River for the final stretch of their journey. The rival New York Central Railroad's line ran down Manhattan from the north under Park Avenue and terminated at Grand Central Depot (later Grand Central Station, now Terminal) at 42nd Street. Many proposals for a cross-Hudson connection were advanced in the late 19th century, but financial panics in the 1870s and 1890s scared off potential investors. In any event, none of the proposals advanced during this time were considered feasible.
An early proposal for a bridge was considered but rejected. The alternative was to tunnel under the river, but this was infeasible for steam locomotive use. The development of the electric locomotive at the turn of the 20th century made a tunnel feasible. In 1901, PRR president Alexander Cassatt announced the railroad's plan to enter New York City by tunneling under the Hudson and building a grand station on the West Side of Manhattan south of 34th Street. The station would sit in Manhattan's Tenderloin district, a historical red-light district known for its corruption and prostitution.
Beginning in June 1903, the two single-track North River Tunnels were bored from the west under the Hudson River. A second set of four single-track tunnels, the East River Tunnels, were bored from the east under the East River, linking the new station to Queens, the PRR-owned Long Island Rail Road, and Sunnyside Yard in Queens, where trains would be maintained and assembled. Construction was completed on the Hudson River tunnels on October 9, 1906, and on the East River tunnels on March 18, 1908.
A small portion of Penn Station was opened on September 8, 1910, in conjunction with the opening of the East River Tunnels. As a result, LIRR riders gained direct railroad service to Manhattan. On November 27, 1910, Penn Station was fully opened to the public. With the station's full opening, the PRR became the only railroad to enter New York City from the south.
During half a century of operation by the Pennsylvania Railroad (1910–1963), scores of intercity passenger trains arrived and departed daily to Chicago and St. Louis on “Pennsy” rails and beyond on connecting railroads to Miami and the west. Along with Long Island Rail Road trains, Penn Station saw trains of the New Haven and the Lehigh Valley Railroads. A side effect of the tunneling project was to open the city up to the suburbs, and within 10 years of opening, two-thirds of the daily passengers coming through Penn Station were commuters. The station put the Pennsylvania Railroad at comparative advantage to its competitors offering direct service from Manhattan to the west and south. Other railroads began their routes at terminals in Weehawken, Hoboken, Pavonia and Communipaw which required passengers from New York City to take the interstate Hudson Tubes (now PATH) or ferries across the Hudson River before boarding their trains. By 1945, at its peak, more than 100 million passengers a year traveled through Penn Station.
By the late 1950s, intercity rail passenger volumes had declined dramatically with the coming of the Jet Age and the Interstate Highway System. Even before then, the station's exterior had become somewhat grimy. Due to its vast scale, the station was very expensive to maintain. A renovation around this time covered some of the grand columns with plastic and blocked off the spacious central hallway with a new ticket office. The Pennsylvania Railroad optioned the air rights of Penn Station in the 1950s. The option called for the demolition of the head house and train shed, to be replaced by an office complex and a new sports complex, while the tracks of the station would remain untouched. Plans for the new Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden were announced in 1962. In exchange for the air rights to Penn Station, the PRR would receive a smaller underground station at no cost and a 25 percent stake in the new Madison Square Garden Complex. Modern architects rushed to save the ornate building, but to no avail. Demolition of the above-ground head house began in October 1963. A giant steel deck was placed over the tracks and platforms to allow rail service to continue with only minor disruptions; photographs of the day showed passengers waiting for trains even as the head house was demolished around them. This was possible because most of the rail infrastructure (including the waiting room, concourses, and boarding platforms) was below street level.
The demolition of the Penn Station head house was controversial and caused outrage internationally. "One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat,” the architectural historian Vincent Scully famously wrote of the original station. The controversy over the demolition of such a well-known landmark, and its deplored replacement, is often cited as a catalyst for the architectural preservation movement in the United States. New laws were passed to restrict such demolition. Within the decade, Grand Central Terminal was protected under the city's new landmarks preservation act, a protection upheld by the courts in 1978 after a challenge by Grand Central's owner, Penn Central.
Current structure (1968–present)
The current Penn Station is completely underground, and sits below Madison Square Garden, 33rd Street, and Two Penn Plaza. The station has three levels: concourses on the upper two levels and train platforms on the lowest. The two levels of concourses, while original to the 1910 station, were extensively renovated during the construction of Madison Square Garden, and expanded in subsequent decades. The tracks and platforms are also largely original, except for some work connecting the station to the West Side Rail Yard and the Amtrak Empire Corridor serving Albany and Buffalo, New York.
In 1991, the opening of the Empire Connection allowed Amtrak to consolidate all of its New York City trains at Penn Station. Previously, all trains traveling along the Empire Corridor originated and terminated at nearby Grand Central Terminal–a legacy of most of those routes previously being part of the New York Central Railroad. Previously, passengers transferring between Northeast Corridor and Empire Corridor routes had to make their own way between the two stations. The two stations have never been connected, even after they both came under ownership of Penn Central in the 1960s and after Amtrak took over all intercity service in 1971. The move also spared Amtrak the expense of maintaining two New York stations, as well as having to pay the MTA over $600,000 per year to use Grand Central's trackage.
In the 1990s, the current Pennsylvania Station was renovated by Amtrak, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and New Jersey Transit, to improve the appearance of the waiting and concession areas, sharpen the station information systems (audio and visual) and remove much of the grime. Recalling the erstwhile grandeur of the bygone Penn Station, an old four-sided clock from the original depot was installed at the 34th Street Long Island Rail Road entrance. The walkway from that entrance's escalator also has a mural depicting elements of the old Penn Station's architecture.
There is an abandoned underground passageway from Penn Station to the nearby 34th Street–Herald Square subway station and 33rd Street PATH station, which was known as "Gimbels Passageway." After decades of safety and sanitation concerns, an epidemic of sexual assaults finally led to its closure in the 1980s.
After the September 11 attacks in 2001, security was increased and passenger flow through the Penn Station complex was curtailed. In 2002, work began on a $100 million improvement to add security features inside Penn Station, such as lighting, security cameras, and barricades. The taxiway under Madison Square Garden, which ran from 31st Street north to 33rd Street halfway between 7th and 8th Avenues, was closed off with concrete Jersey barriers. A covered walkway from the taxiway was constructed to guide arriving passengers to a new taxi-stand on 31st Street. In addition, the direct connection escalators from Penn Station to the lobby of Madison Square Garden were closed and later removed.
Despite the improvements, Penn Station continues to be criticized as a low-ceilinged "catacomb" lacking charm, especially when compared to the much larger and more ornate Grand Central Terminal. The New York Times, in a November 2007 editorial supporting development of an enlarged railroad terminal, said that "Amtrak's beleaguered customers...now scurry through underground rooms bereft of light or character." Times transit reporter Michael M. Grynbaum later called Penn Station "the ugly stepchild of the city’s two great rail terminals." Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman wrote that while downsizing Penn Station and moving it entirely underground may have made a modicum of sense at the time, in hindsight it was a sign that New York was "disdainful of its gloried architectural past." Kimmelman also argued that the remodeling resulted in a station that was no longer commensurate with its status as the main rail gateway to New York. Earlier, Christopher Gray of the Times wrote in 2001 that "there would be no shortage of bodies to sit in front of the bulldozers" to save the older, larger Penn Station.
The station is served by 1,300 arrivals and departures per day, twice the number during the 1970s. There are more than 600,000 commuter rail and Amtrak passengers who use the station on an average weekday, or up to 1,000 every ninety seconds.:498, 891 It is the busiest passenger transportation facility in the United States and in North America.:890–891
Amtrak owns the station and uses it for the following services:
- Acela Express to Boston (northern terminus) and Washington D.C. (southern terminus)
- Adirondack to Montréal
- Cardinal to Chicago
- Carolinian to Charlotte
- Crescent to New Orleans
- Empire Service to Albany and Niagara Falls, NY
- Ethan Allen Express to Rutland
- Keystone Service to Harrisburg
- Lake Shore Limited to Chicago
- Maple Leaf to Toronto
- Pennsylvanian to Pittsburgh
- Northeast Regional to Boston or Springfield (northern termini) and Roanoke, Newport News, or Norfolk (southern termini)
- Palmetto to Savannah
- Silver Meteor to Miami
- Silver Star to Miami
- Vermonter to Washington D.C. (southern terminus) and St. Albans (northern terminus)
All except the Acela Express, Northeast Regional and Vermonter originate and terminate at Penn Station.
Amtrak normally uses tracks 1–12 alongside New Jersey Transit, and shares tracks 13–16 with the LIRR and NJ Transit.
Long Island Rail Road
The following Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) services originate and terminate at Penn Station:
- Babylon Branch to Babylon with connecting service to Montauk
- Belmont Park Branch seasonal service to Belmont Park
- City Terminal Zone with connecting service at Jamaica station
- Far Rockaway Branch to Far Rockaway, Queens in New York City
- Hempstead Branch to Hempstead
- Long Beach Branch to Long Beach
- Montauk Branch to Babylon and Montauk
- Oyster Bay Branch to Oyster Bay
- Port Jefferson Branch to Huntington and Port Jefferson
- Port Washington Branch to Great Neck and Port Washington
- Ronkonkoma Branch to Ronkonkoma and Long Island MacArthur Airport with connecting service to Greenport
- West Hempstead Branch to Hempstead
All branches connect at Jamaica station except the Port Washington Branch.
Normally, the LIRR uses tracks 17–21 exclusively and shares tracks 13–16 with Amtrak and NJT. The LIRR uses tracks 11–12 on rare occasions.
New Jersey Transit
The following NJ Transit Rail Operations (NJT) branches originate and terminate at Penn Station:
- Montclair-Boonton Line to Montclair, and points west to Hackettstown
- Morris and Essex Lines to Summit and Dover and points west to Hackettstown or the Gladstone branch.
- Northeast Corridor Line to Trenton
- North Jersey Coast Line to Long Branch, with connecting service to Bay Head
- Raritan Valley Line to Raritan and High Bridge (Service currently suspended past Newark Penn Station to New York until further notice)
NJT normally shares tracks 1–12 with Amtrak and tracks 13–16 with Amtrak and LIRR. The NJT uses track 17 on rare occasions.
New York City Subway
Connections are available to the following New York City Subway stations:
- From Penn Station:
- From Herald Square, one block east at Sixth Avenue:
Connections are also available to the PATH system at 33rd Street station, under Sixth Avenue on Herald Square. The JSQ-33 and HOB-33 services terminate at 33rd Street on weekdays, and are combined into the JSQ-33 (via HOB) service on late nights, weekends and holidays.
Bus and coach
NYC Airporter provides bus transportation to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, and is authorized by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York City Department of Transportation.
New York City Bus
- M7 (Lenox, Columbus, Amsterdam, Sixth and Seventh Avenues): southbound to Greenwich Village, via Seventh Avenue; or northbound to Harlem via Sixth, Amsterdam, and Lenox Avenues
- M20 (Seventh and Eighth Avenues/Varick and Hudson Streets): northbound to Lincoln Center via Eighth Avenue; or southbound to South Ferry via Seventh Avenue
- M34 Select Bus Service (34th Street Crosstown): westbound to Javits Center; or eastbound to FDR Drive
- M34A Select Bus Service (34th Street Crosstown): westbound to Port Authority Bus Terminal; or eastbound to Waterside Plaza and Kips Bay
- Q32 (Fifth and Madison Avenues): northbound only, to Jackson Heights, Queens
Intercity bus service to and from Penn Station is provided by BoltBus, Vamoose Bus, Tripper Bus, and Go Buses. BoltBus operates from two stops at Penn Station. Penn Station Bus Stop #1 has service to Baltimore; Greenbelt, Maryland; and two stops in Washington, D.C. Penn Station Bus Stop #2 has service to Boston; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; and Philadelphia. Vamoose Bus runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Bethesda, Maryland; Arlington, Virginia; and Lorton, Virginia. Tripper Bus runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Bethesda, Maryland and Arlington, Virginia. Go Buses runs buses from a stop near Penn Station to Newton, Massachusetts and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Proposed Metro-North service
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed to bring Metro-North Railroad commuter trains to Penn Station as part of its Penn Station Access project. The first phase of the project would bring New Haven Line trains to Penn Station via Amtrak's Hell Gate Bridge and the East River Tunnels. The second phase would bring Hudson Line service to the station via the Empire Connection.
Penn Station does not have a unified design or floor plan but rather is divided into separate Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit concourses with each concourse maintained and styled differently by its respective operator. Amtrak and NJ Transit concourses are located on the first level below the street-level while the Long Island Rail Road concourse is two levels below street-level. The NJ Transit concourse near Seventh Avenue is the newest and opened in 2002 out of existing retail and Amtrak office space. A new entrance to this concourse from West 31st Street opened in September 2009. Previously, NJ Transit shared space with the Amtrak concourse. The main LIRR concourse runs below West 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Significant renovations were made to this concourse over a three-year period ending in 1994, including the addition of a new entry pavilion on 34th Street. The LIRR's West End Concourse, west of Eighth Avenue, opened in 1986. The station is so complex that in December 2017, Amtrak and Zyter released a mobile app called FindYourWay to help commuters navigate around Penn Station, though Zyter also plans to roll out the app at other large Amtrak stations.
As further evidence of its complexity, the station's three providers use different official addresses for the station.
- Amtrak: 8th Avenue and West 31st Street
- LIRR: 34th Street at 7th and 8th Avenues
- NJ Transit: 390 7th Avenue
|Above ground||Madison Square Garden/Two Penn Plaza|
|UC||Amtrak Concourse||Amtrak tickets, transfer to 34th Street–Penn Station (IND Eighth Avenue Line) station; exit to 33rd Street, connection to Exit and Connecting concourses|
|NJT Concourse||NJT tickets, exit to 31st Street, connect to LIRR and Hilton concourses|
|LC||West End Concourse||Amtrak/LIRR tickets, transfer to 34th Street–Penn Station (IND Eighth Avenue Line) station; exit to 33rd Street, connection to Exit and Connecting concourses|
|Exit Concourse||Exit to 31st Street, connection to Hilton, West End, and Connecting concourses|
|Hilton Corridor||Exit to Seventh Avenue, connection to Exit, LIRR, Central, and NJT concourses|
|Central Concourse||Tickets, connection to Connecting and Hilton concourses|
|Connecting Concourse||Transfer to 34th Street–Penn Station (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line) station, connection to West End, LIRR, Central, and Exit concourses, to One Penn Plaza and 34th Street at north end|
|LIRR Concourse||LIRR tickets, connection to NJT and Hilton concourses|
|Track 21||LIRR toward Long Island (Woodside or Jamaica) →|
|Island platform (Platform K)|
|Track 20||LIRR toward Long Island (Woodside or Jamaica) →|
|Track 19||LIRR toward Long Island (Woodside or Jamaica) →|
|Island platform (Platform J)|
|Track 18||LIRR toward Long Island (Woodside or Jamaica) →|
|Island platform (Platform I); Track 17 only|
|Track 17||LIRR toward Long Island (Woodside or Jamaica) →|
|Track 16||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit/LIRR →|
|Island platform (Platform H)|
|Track 15||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit/LIRR →|
|Track 14||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit/LIRR →|
|Island platform (Platform G)|
|Track 13||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit/LIRR →|
|Track 12||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit/LIRR →|
|Island platform (Platform F)|
|Track 11||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit →|
|Track 10||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit →|
|Island platform (Platform E)|
|Track 9||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit →|
|Track 8||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit →|
|Island platform (Platform D)|
|Track 7||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit →|
|Track 6||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit →|
|Island platform (Platform C)|
|Track 5||← Amtrak/New Jersey Transit|
|Track 4||← New Jersey Transit toward New Jersey (Secaucus Junction, Newark Broad Street, or Newark Penn)|
|Island platform (Platform B)|
|Track 3||← New Jersey Transit toward New Jersey (Secaucus Junction, Newark Broad Street, or Newark Penn)|
|Track 2||← New Jersey Transit toward New Jersey (Secaucus Junction, Newark Broad Street, or Newark Penn)|
|Island platform (Platform A)|
|Track 1||← New Jersey Transit toward New Jersey (Secaucus Junction, Newark Broad Street, or Newark Penn)|
Tracks and surrounding infrastructure
Penn Station track map
In normal operations, Amtrak and NJ Transit share tracks 1–12, while the LIRR has the exclusive use of tracks 17–21 on the north side of the station. All three railroads share tracks 13–16. Tracks 1–4 end at bumper blocks at the eastern end of the platform and have no access to the East River Tunnels. From the east, the East River Tunnels' lines 1 and 2 (the more southerly tubes) can only access tracks 5–17 and are used by most Amtrak and NJ Transit trains, while the East River Tunnels' lines 3 and 4 (the more northerly tubes) can only access tracks 14–21 and are mostly used by LIRR. From the west, the North River Tunnels can access tracks 1–19, while the Empire Connection can only access tracks 1–9 and the LIRR's West Side Yard can only access tracks 10–21.
All station tracks are powered by 12 kV overhead wire. Tracks 5–21 also have 750 V DC third rail. Due to the lack of proper ventilation in the tunnels and station, only electric locomotives and dual-mode locomotives are scheduled to enter Penn Station. Diesel-only NJT trains terminate at Hoboken Terminal or Newark Penn Station, and diesel-only LIRR trains terminate at or prior to Long Island City.
Trains on track 18 open their doors only on the north side (platform 10).
2017–2018 service disruptions and track improvements
Since the early 2010s, Amtrak had planned to fix the deteriorating rails and infrastructure around Penn Station, but due to the prioritization of other projects, applied only minimal fixes. In early 2017, this culminated in numerous power outages, derailments, and delays due to track maintenance delays. There were frequent service disruptions to train schedules caused by the deterioration of its tracks and their supporting infrastructure, as well as in those of the East River and North River tunnels that respectively connect the station to Long Island and New Jersey.
A string of early 2017 service disruptions started on March 23, 2017, when an Acela train derailed, causing delays for the day. On April 3, a NJ Transit train derailed at a known problem site, where repairs had been deferred. This caused four days of reduced service along the Northeast Corridor for both Amtrak and NJ Transit, because the incident damaged the switch that connects Tracks 1–8 to the North River tunnels. This closure caused a cascading failure, delaying Amtrak and Long Island Railroad trains on the unaffected tracks.
On April 14, a New Jersey Transit train became stuck in the North River tunnels, causing the station to grow crowded with waiting passengers. After an Amtrak police officer used a Taser on a man who was acting disruptively, rumors of gunshots sparked a stampede that injured 16 people. Following the stampede, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer called on Amtrak to centralize law enforcement response.
As a result of these incidents, the Long Island Rail Road had proposed taking over Penn Station from Amtrak to improve maintenance, and New Jersey has suggested withholding state payments to Amtrak. Amtrak has discussed accelerating major maintenance work, even at the cost of further disruptions, to more quickly stabilize infrastructure and decrease more future incidents that could potentially cause even greater disruption. On April 28, Amtrak announced that it would perform some track maintenance during the summer over a period of one and a half months. Five tracks were closed for repairs as part of the reconstruction work, severely reducing track capacity in a situation media outlets deemed "the summer of hell". Many affected NJ Transit passengers were diverted to take the PATH instead. Some Amtrak trains from the Empire Corridor were routed to Grand Central instead of Penn Station. Regular service resumed on September 5, 2017.
Amtrak made further improvements to Penn Station's trackage in summer 2018. As a result, some Empire Corridor trains were rerouted again to Grand Central. The Lake Shore Limited and Cardinal to Chicago were truncated or rerouted because of this work.
Although most Amtrak passengers board via the escalators in the main Amtrak boarding area, there are multiple entrances and exits for each platform.
ClubAcela is a private lounge located on the Amtrak concourse (8th Avenue side of the station). Prior to December 2000 it was known as the Metropolitan Lounge. Guests are provided with comfortable seating, complimentary non-alcoholic beverages, newspapers, television sets and a conference room. Access to ClubAcela is restricted to the following passenger types:
- Amtrak Guest Rewards members with a valid Select Plus or Select Executive member card.
- Amtrak passengers with a same-day ticket (departing) or ticket receipt (arriving) in First class or sleeping car accommodations.
- ClubAcela Single-Day Pass holders. Same day business class passengers may purchase these for $25.
- United Airlines United Club Members with a valid card or passengers with a same-day travel ticket on United Polaris.
- Private rail car owners/lessees. The PNR number must be given to a Club representative upon entry.
Enclosed waiting area
Amtrak also offers an enclosed waiting area for ticketed passengers with seats, outlets and WiFi.
|33rd St to 34th St subway cross-section|
|11th Av||10th & 9th Avs
|8th Av||Madison Square
|7th Av||Storefronts||6th Av &
|5th & Madison Avs
|mezzanine||A / C / E||concourse||1 / 2 / 3||Former Gimbel's
|mezz||PATH||6 / <6>|
|mezzanine||mezzanine||concourse||mezzanine||N / Q / R / W|
|7 / <7>||Penn Station||B/D/F/<F>/M|
Planning and redevelopment
The Gateway Program is a proposed high-speed rail corridor to alleviate the bottleneck along the Northeast Corridor at the North River Tunnels, which runs under the Hudson River. If constructed, the project would add 25 cross-Hudson train slots during rush hours, convert parts of the James Farley Post Office into a rail station, and add a 7-track, 4-platform terminal annex to Penn Station. Some previously planned improvements already underway have also been incorporated into the Gateway plan.
The Gateway Program was unveiled in 2011, one year after the cancellation of the somewhat similar Access to the Region's Core (ARC) project, and was originally projected to cost $14.5 billion and take 14 years to build. Construction of a "tunnel box" that would preserve the right-of-way on Manhattan's West Side began in September 2013, using $185 million in recovery and resilience funding awarded after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In 2015, Amtrak said that damage done to the existing trans-Hudson tunnels by Hurricane Sandy had made their replacement urgent. That year, Amtrak reported that environmental and design work was underway, estimated the project's total cost at $20 billion, and said construction would start in 2019 or 2020 and last four to five years. A draft environmental impact statement was released in July 2017.
Funding for the Gateway Program had been unclear for several years due to a lack of funding commitments from New Jersey officials and the federal government. In March 2018, up to $541 million for the project was provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
Main site plans
Resurgence of train ridership in the 21st century has pushed the current Pennsylvania Station structure to capacity, leading to several proposals to renovate or rebuild the station.
In May 2013, four architecture firms—SHoP Architects, SOM, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro—submitted proposals for a new Penn Station. SHoP Architects recommended moving Madison Square Garden to the Morgan Postal Facility a few blocks southwest, as well as removing 2 Penn Plaza and redeveloping other towers, and an extension of the High Line to Penn Station. Meanwhile, SOM proposed moving Madison Square Garden to the area just south of the James Farley Post Office, and redeveloping the area above Penn Station as a mixed-use development with commercial, residential, and recreational space. H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture wanted to move the arena to a new pier west of Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, four blocks west of the current station/arena. Then, according to H3's plan, four skyscrapers at each of the four corners of the new Penn Station superblock, with a roof garden on top of the station; the Farley Post Office would become an education center. Finally, Diller Scofidio + Renfro proposed a mixed-use development on the site, with spas, theaters, a cascading park, a pool, and restaurants; Madison Square Garden would be moved two blocks west, next to the post office. DS+F also proposed high-tech features in the station, such as train arrival and departure boards on the floor, and applications that can help waiting passengers use their time until they board their trains. Madison Square Garden rejected the allegations that it would be relocated, and called the plans "pie-in-the-sky".
In 2013, the Regional Plan Association and Municipal Art Society formed the Alliance for a New Penn Station. Citing overcrowding and the limited capacity of the current station under Madison Square Garden, the Alliance began to advocate for limiting the extension of Madison Square Garden's operating permit to ten years. In June 2013, the New York City Council Committee on Land Use voted unanimously to give the Garden a ten-year permit, at the end of which period the owners will either have to relocate, or go back through the permission process. On July 24, 2013, the New York City Council voted 47–1 to give the Garden a ten-year operating permit. City Council speaker Christine Quinn called the vote "the first step in finding a new home for Madison Square Garden and building a new Penn Station that is as great as New York and suitable for the 21st century." In October 2014, following the 2014 MAS Summit in New York City, the Morgan facility was selected as the ideal area to which to move Madison Square Garden.
In January 2016, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced that requests for proposals would be solicited for the redevelopment of the station, which would be a public-private partnership. Investors would be granted commercial rights to the station in exchange for paying building costs.
Moynihan Train Hall
In the early 1990s, U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan began to champion a plan to rebuild a replica of the historic Penn Station, in which he had shined shoes during the Great Depression. He proposed building it in the Farley Post Office building, which occupies the block across Eighth Avenue from the current Penn Station and was designed by McKim, Mead & White, the same architectural firm that designed the original station. In 1999 Senator Charles Schumer sponsored a bill to formally name the yet-to-be-constructed facility "Daniel Patrick Moynihan Station" in his honor. The bill did not pass Congress, but would subsequently result in the sale of the Farley Post Office building in 2006 to New York State in the hope that Moynihan's vision would be realized.
Initial design proposals were laid out by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 2001. Designs saw several iterations by multiple architectural firms, and Amtrak withdrew from the plan until 2012. Support also grew for "Plan B," an expansion of the project's scope, under which Madison Square Garden would have been moved to the west flank of the Farley Building, allowing Vornado Realty to construct an office complex on the current Garden site. By 2009, the Garden's owner Cablevision had decided not to move Madison Square Garden, but to renovate its current location instead, and Amtrak had returned as a potential tenant.
In 2010, the fully designed elements of the plan were broken off into a $267 million Phase 1. Funded by $83.4 million of federal stimulus money that became available in February, plus other funds, the phase adds two entrances to the existing Penn Station platforms through the Farley Building on Eighth Avenue. Ground was broken on October 18, 2010, and the extended West End Concourse opened in the eastern part of the former post office in June 2017.
Phase 2 will consist of the new train hall in the fully renovated Farley Building. At the time it was first proposed, it was expected to cost up to $1.5 billion. A proposed name for a station that integrates the existing Penn and the post office building is Empire Station. In September 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined the details of a proposal that would speed up the construction of Phase 2 of the renovated Moynihan Station. The new hall would be 1 acre (0.40 ha) and be underneath a large glass skylight. The Farley Post Office would be divided so that there would be some space for a shared Amtrak/LIRR train hall and a retail area, as well as space for the post office. Phase 2, which was now expected to cost $1.6 billion, was to be built by Skanska AB, and the retail space would be developed by Related Companies and Vornado Realty; all three companies were supposed to sign a contract by 2017. The name of the project was subsequently changed to Moynihan Train Hall.
In August 2017, ground was broken on the now-$1.6 billion project. Although the LIRR and Amtrak will move to the new train hall, NJ Transit will keep using its current platforms because there is no space to extend the NJ Transit platforms westward. If the Gateway Program is built, NJ Transit would instead move to the southern annex that would be built as part of the project. As part of Moynihan Phase 2, a new direct entrance from 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue to the LIRR concourse and subway platforms would be built. 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues would be permanently closed to vehicular traffic and converted into a pedestrian plaza. The LIRR concourse would be nearly doubled in width, from 30 to 57 feet (9.1 to 17.4 m), and the ceilings would be raised to a minimum height of 18 feet (5.5 m). The expected completion date for these improvements is 2022, though the Moynihan Train Hall and the Seventh Avenue entrance would be opened by 2021. In total, seven new entrances to Penn Station would be built as part of the Moynihan Hall project.
In January 2020, Governor Cuomo announced the construction of a long-awaited southern annex to Penn Station, part of his vision for the Empire Station Complex. The annex would include 8 additional tracks with 4 platforms and would involve demolishing the entire block bounded by 30th and 31st Streets between 7th and 8th Avenues, directly south of the existing station. The cost and timeline of the Empire Station project was not announced. The project is a breakout from the larger Gateway Program, allowing construction of the annex to proceed independently from the project to build two additional North River tunnels to New Jersey.
New Jersey Transit ALP-45DP locomotive at the platform
- The breakdown of Penn Station's ridership:
- Commuter and intercity rail comprise about 355,000 daily weekday passengers.
- LIRR has an average of 233,340 daily weekday passengers.
- NJ Transit has an average of 93,305 daily weekday passengers.
- Amtrak has an average of 28,487 daily passengers, when annual totals are averaged.
- The two subway stations have a combined average of approximately 200,000 daily weekday passengers. However, this only includes entries and not exits.
- The remainder of the ridership, around 75,000 passengers, may use other transportation such as buses, taxis, or ride-sharing, and may include passengers exiting from the subway.
- Commuter and intercity rail comprise about 355,000 daily weekday passengers.
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