West Side Yard

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View of West Side Yard from 33rd Street

The West Side Yard (officially the John D. Caemmerer West Side Yard) is a rail yard owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on the west side of Manhattan in New York City. Used to store commuter rail trains operated by the Long Island Rail Road, the 26.17-acre (10.59 ha) yard sits between West 30th Street, West 33rd Street, 10th Avenue and 12th Avenue.

The yard includes storage tracks, a six-track indoor shop for light maintenance, a 12-car long platform for car cleaning, and lockers and a break room for employees. The yard sits at the north end of the High Line, a former elevated rail line used for freight service that has been converted into a park, and south of the truck marshalling yard used by the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. It also sits above the 34th Street – Hudson Yards subway station, which opened in 2015.

Before the yard opened in 1987, trains arriving at Penn Station during the morning rush hour had to deadhead back to Long Island for midday storage. The West Side Yard also increased the LIRR's peak period capacity at Penn Station.


Looking east across the West Side Yard toward Penn Station

The 26.17-acre (10.59 ha) site is bounded by between West 30th Street, West 33rd Street, 10th Avenue, and 12th Avenue.[1][2] It was originally used as a depot for the Hudson River Railroad for a line running down Eleventh Avenue, as trains were not permitted to operate south of West 32nd Street because of a fear of explosions. New York Central and later on Penn Central later expanded the rail yards and used them as a freight terminal up until the 1970s.[3]

The yard was built as a result of train capacity issues at Penn Station that forced terminating LIRR trains to make unneeded non-passenger trips to storage yards on Long Island.[4][3] The yard opened in 1987, immediately increasing train capacity through Penn Station.[5] The West Side Yard is named after John D. Caemmerer, a New York State Senator from East Williston who helped obtain $195.7 million for its construction.[3]

During construction, an underground tunnel was built that allows Amtrak trains from Penn Station to travel to Upstate New York via the West Side Line.[3] Amtrak trains began using this tunnel on April 7, 1991; before this, Empire Service trains originated from Grand Central Terminal.[6]

Air rights[edit]

The West Side Yard was also designed to accommodate an overbuild in its air rights, and space was left between the tracks for columns to support a platform above the tracks.[3] There was a long series of development proposals for the rail yards, including a possible move by Madison Square Garden in the mid-1980s.[7][8] The rail yards were also considered as a possible stadium site for the New York Yankees.[9] The rail yards were later proposed as the site of a sports complex containing a West Side Stadium for the New York Jets and the New York City bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics.[10][11]

The eastern portion of the West Side Yard (east of 11th Avenue) was rezoned for residential use in January 2005 as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project. Following the defeat of the proposal to construct the West Side Stadium, the western portion of the rail yard was rezoned to accommodate residential and commercial development in December 2009.[12][13][14]

Tunnel box[edit]

The West Side Yard sits between Penn Station and the Hudson River

The Gateway Project is a proposal to build a high-speed rail corridor to alleviate the bottleneck along the Northeast Corridor between Newark, New Jersey, and New York City. According to Schumer, the only place for an Amtrak portal for the corridor in Manhattan is in the West Side Yard. That might conflict with the Hudson Yards project, which broke ground in late 2012.[15] In February 2013, Amtrak officials said that a right-of-way would be preserved through the Hudson Yards project by construction of a tunnel under that project using $120 million to $150 million in federal funds.[16][17][18] In June 2013 it was announced that $183 million had been dedicated to the "tunnel box" as part of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding.[19][20][21] Construction began in September 2013 and was expected to take two years.[22] The underground concrete casing is 800 ft (240 m) long, 50 ft (15 m) wide, and approximately 35 ft (11 m) tall.[23] Amtrak awarded Tutor Perini a $133m contract to build a section of box tunnel.[24]

Amtrak, NJ Transit, and the MTA have applied to the Federal Transit Administration for a $65 million matching grant for another 105 ft (32 m) long structure to preserve the right-of-way at 11th Avenue in Manhattan[25][26] under a viaduct that was rehabilitated in 2009–2011.[27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "West Side Rail Yard (Request for Proposals for Development)". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  2. ^ "2004 Annual Report" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. p. 66. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Voboril, Mary (March 26, 2005). "The Air Above Rail Yards Still Free". Newsday. New York. 
  4. ^ Doherty, Matthew (November 7, 2004). "Far West Side Story". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  5. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (February 21, 1984). "Problems Halt Laying of Pipe at L.I.R.R. Project". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  6. ^ "Travel Advisory; Grand Central Trains Rerouted To Penn Station". The New York Times. April 7, 1991. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  7. ^ Charles V. Bagli, "Move Possible for Garden (But Where?)," New York Times, Dec. 16, 2000.
  8. ^ "Owners of Garden Said to Weight Building New Arena Further West". The New York Times. December 28, 1985. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  9. ^ Barry, Dan (April 20, 1998). "Mayor Making Case for Yanks on West Side". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  10. ^ Barry, Dan (January 15, 1999). "Giuliani Offers Plan to Put Up Sports Complex". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  11. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (November 27, 2011). "From Ashes of Olympic Bid, a Future Rises for the Far West Side". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  12. ^ Purnick, Joyce (January 20, 2005). "What Rises in the West? Uncertainty". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  13. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (December 21, 2009). "Rezoning Will Allow Railyard Project to Advance". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  14. ^ "MTA Finalizes Hudson Yards Deal". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. May 26, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  15. ^ Marritz, Ilya (September 28, 2012). "Sen. Schumer: Fast Action Needed for New Amtrak Tunnel". Transportation Nation. Retrieved 2012-10-03. 
  16. ^ Sichert, Bill (March 5, 2013). "Amtrak to construct 'tunnel box' for Hudson River rail project to cross Manhattan development". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  17. ^ Samtani, HIten (February 26, 2013). "Related, Amtrak to construct rail tunnel between Manhattan and NJ". The Real Deal. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  18. ^ Cuozzo, Steve (February 26, 2013). "Fed money keeps rail tunnel alive". The New York Post. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  19. ^ Magyar, Mark J. (October 21, 2013). "NJ FACES HEFTY PRICETAG FOR RAIL TUNNEL, TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS". NJ Spotlight. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  20. ^ "Second Trans-Hudson Tunnel Gets Some Real Money". Transportation Nation. WNYC. May 30, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  21. ^ Hawkins, Andrew (May 30, 2013). "Hudson train tunnel project gets kickstart". Crain's. Retrieved 2014-01-27. 
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ Environmental Assessment for Construction of a Concrete Casing in the Hudson Yards, New York, New York, Federal Railroad Administration, March 2013 
  24. ^ "Contract awarded for New York rail tunnel". Construction Index. September 7, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-26. 
  25. ^ HIggs, Larry (September 1, 2014). "Amtrak: New tunnels needed after Sandy damage". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  26. ^ Maag, Christopher (September 21, 2014). "Signs of life stir for rail tunnel under Hudson". The Record. Retrieved 2014-09-22. 
  27. ^ "11th Avenue viAduCt OveR LiRR YARd WeSt 30th tO WeSt 33Rd StReetS" (PDF). NYC DOT. Retrieved 2014-09-03. 
  28. ^ "Rehabilitation of 11th Avenue Viaduct Over LIRR/Amtrak" (PDF). Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers. Retrieved 2014-09-03. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′16″N 74°00′11″W / 40.75444°N 74.00306°W / 40.75444; -74.00306