Overview: The existing New York Penn Station is the busiest passenger rail terminal in the United States, serving over 1,000 daily trains and almost 500,000 daily riders. Since the original Pennsylvania Station headhouse was demolished in the 1960s, the cramped design of the present-day underground Penn Station has been widely recognized as unfit to serve as the passenger rail gateway to America’s most populous city. After the demolition of the original station, renowned architecture critic Vincent Scully famously remarked, “One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat.” Today, Penn Station’s tracks, platforms, and waiting areas are regularly overwhelmed by the growing number of passengers boarding Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT, and LIRR trains.
Several complementary projects are planned or proposed to increase station capacity and upgrade the passenger experience in New York. First, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in cooperation with Amtrak and LIRR, is leading the development of Moynihan Station, a new intercity passenger rail station that will dramatically improve the experience of boarding a train in New York. Located inside the historic Farley Post Office, just west of Penn Station and above the NEC tracks, the new station will offer a grand entrance to Manhattan and world-class facilities for intercity and commuter passengers. Phase One, already supported by state and federal funding, is expanding the site’s underground concourse to improve track connections for Amtrak and LIRR. In Phase 2, above ground, the Farley Post Office will be converted into a full-scale, intercity passenger rail terminal, including the construction of ticketing facilities, waiting areas, retail amenities, and access points to tracks and platforms. When Phase 2 is complete, Amtrak’s current station operations and primary boarding area would be relocated to Moynihan Station.
Second, as part of the larger Gateway program, Amtrak is proposing an expansion of New York Penn Station’s track and platform facilities to increase capacity in New York. Plans under consideration include the construction of four new platforms and seven new tracks to accommodate the additional intercity and commuter services that would be made possible with new Hudson River tunneling.
Finally, Amtrak, LIRR, and NJ TRANSIT are considering architectural improvements to the existing New York Penn Station. The three agencies are currently completing a Penn Station master plan that could guide aesthetic and layout improvements aimed at upgrading and expanding the passenger waiting areas, creating new retail options, and making it easier to board trains and move through the station.