NYC’s Moynihan Train Hall To Ease Congestion

The cutaway view of the new Moynihan Train Hall shows how the tracks are still the same, they just end up under this second building south of the current Penn Station.
The cutaway view of the new Moynihan Train Hall shows how the tracks are still the same, they just end up under this second building south of the current Penn Station.

New York City is upping the game in its transportation infrastructure, making More Room for Passengers

By Max Hartshorne
GoNOMAD Editor

Rendering of a cocktail bar in the new station.
Rendering of a cocktail bar in the new station.

New York City’s Penn Station opened in 1910.

Today, the 650,000 daily commuters who enter and exit the massive facility–more than JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports combined–have to endure trudging through dimly lit train areas and suffer from a lack of incoming tracks and room for waiting passengers.

Since 1976 the number of passengers has doubled, but the number of tracks and the space of Penn Station has remained the same.

The corridors, lighting and passenger seating at the old Penn are seriously in need of updates, and a new plan will add a whole new second train station for all of those people.

It’s the new Moynihan Train Hall,  and it’s opening in December 2020.

This comprehensive solution has been underway for decades and in 2020, the new Moynihan Train Hall will fully open, giving New Yorkers and visitors to the Big Apple a whole new travel experience.

Passengers will be able to exit at the current Penn Station, or further south at the elegant new station with 100′ ceilings, flooded with light.

Inside the Moynihan Train Hall, flooded with natural light, just past Penn Station.
Inside the Moynihan Train Hall, flooded with natural light, just past Penn Station

Who Was Moynihan?

The hall is named for a legendary senator and statesman from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who represented the city for decades and advocated for transit during the tough times for NYC finances. He served as one of New York’s senators from 1976 until 2001.

Sen Daniel Patrick Moynihan, tied with Jacob Javits as New York's longest serving senator.
Sen Daniel Patrick Moynihan, tied with Jacob Javits as New York’s longest-serving senator.

A press release from Empire Development outlines the plans, which were unveiled in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2020 State of the State address.

“Under the Empire Station Complex Plan, the properties on the block south of Penn Station will be acquired, enabling Penn Station’s underground infrastructure to grow southward.

This represents the first expansion of Penn Station’s foundational infrastructure since the station was completed in 1910, and will allow for the creation of at least eight new tracks, boosting track and train capacity by approximately 40 percent.

Not only will this huge new train hall provide such a huge boost to capacity, but it will also include acquiring land currently used by the MSG Theater to create a grand new eight-block entrance to Penn Station on 8th Avenue, with eight new tracks to bring trains in and out of the city.

“Amtrak, which owns the existing Penn Station, will participate in planning and financing this historic project. Additionally, the Governor announced New York State, Amtrak, and other stakeholders will partner with a consultant design team – led by FXCollaborative – to develop and help carry out our plan to transform the existing Penn Station.


Riding the Valley Flyer

On a recent trip to New York City, I rode down to the city on Amtrak’s newest line extension, the Valley Flyer, operated by Amtrak.

These trains bring twice-daily commuter service to the small city of Greenfield and offer dozens of trains a day between Springfield Mass and New Haven Connecticut.

The Valley Flyer doesn’t exactly fly–in some of the track portions the speeds are as low as 10 miles an hour, but it finally begins to gain speed after it passes Windsor, CT.  One of the frustrating aspects of the new service is that it doesn’t take riders to Bradley Airport, in Windsor Locks.

At the end of 2020, these Amtrak trains beginning in northern Vermont will travel through the underground tunnels and will allow passengers to depart at the current Penn Station or up into this grand and brand new station.

“At the same time, regionally significant projects like East Side Access, the LIRR Third Track and the Metro-North Penn Access Project will increase LIRR and Metro-North capacity, drawing more commuters into Penn Station.

Taken together, these initiatives present both a critical need and a major opportunity to re-envision Penn Station on a grand scale.”

I can’t wait see it all finished!

The sign above the transom will read “Moynihan Train Hall” when the work is completed in late 2020.

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