ALBANY, N.Y. — Amtrak will lease 100 route-miles of CSX trackage in New York state to prepare for improvements to its Empire Service trains, according to an article in the Albany Times-Union.
The lease, which would begin in 2012, will give Amtrak responsibility for operations, maintenance, and capital improvements along trackage between Poughkeepsie and Schenectady, N.Y.
The segment between Poughkeepsie and Albany-Rensselaer, which follows the east bank of the Hudson River, sees 26 Amtrak trains a day on weekdays. The line is the funnel for intercity passenger trains operating between New York City and Montreal, Toronto, Albany, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Rutland, Vt., and is also used by the long-distance Lake Shore Limited. (South of Poughkeepsie, the route to New York City is owned and operated by the state’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.)
CSX acquired the Poughkeepsie-Schenectady trackage as part of the 1999 division of Conrail, but operates fewer than five freights a day on the line. Most freights serving the New York City area from the Albany region follow a parallel route along the west bank of the Hudson that reaches the ports and freight terminals of northern New Jersey.
The lease will enable Amtrak to make upgrades that will lead to faster and more reliable operations, while maintaining freight service over the line.
Last month the state of New York received $149.3 million in federal high speed funds earmarked for improvements along the route. The money will pay for a second track between Schenectady and Albany, a major chokepoint for the 12 Amtrak trains a day that travel between the two cities, as well as a fourth station track at the Albany-Rensselaer depot, platform improvements at the Schenectady station, and the relocation of signal wires south of Albany where the tracks follow the Hudson River.