Amtrak: Have to leave Penn but can’t afford it

WASHINGTON – For Amtrak to move more passengers on trains between Washington and Boston, its only profitable route, it must move out of New York’s Penn Station, said Drew Galloway, assistant vice president for the eastern region, Bloomberg News reported. More

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Amtrak: Have to leave Penn but can’t afford it

Posted 12/26/11

WASHINGTON – For Amtrak to move more passengers on trains between Washington and Boston, its only profitable route, it must move out of New York’s Penn Station, said Drew Galloway, assistant vice president for the eastern region, Bloomberg News reported.

The new space it covets is across the street, where New York state and two developers plan to transform the 97-year-old James A. Farley Post Office into a $1 billion train hall and retail complex.

However, officials at U.S. taxpayer-subsidized Amtrak, which lost $1.3 billion last fiscal year, say they can’t afford to leave Penn Station, which the railroad owns, unless their new home is effectively rent-free. With the development’s finances unresolved, New York officials haven’t made guarantees.

“Either we are able to expand the station capacity to accommodate more passengers, or we can’t expand the service on the corridor,” Galloway said. “It’s that simple.”

Other potential sources of project funding have dried up or face constraints. Congress last month killed the fiscal 2012 budget for President Barack Obama’s high-speed rail program and cut Amtrak’s annual subsidy by $65 million. •

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