Amtrak and New York State to celebrate 50 years of the Empire Service

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ALBANY, N.Y. — On Monday, Dec. 4, Amtrak is hosting a celebration ceremony at the Albany-Rensselaer, N.Y., station to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Empire Service. From New York City to Albany, and on to Buffalo and Niagara Falls, in a partnership with the New York State Department of Transportation. Amtrak will mark this milestone anniversary by honoring the individuals who played a role in the start of the service in 1967, and inviting elected officials, local dignitaries, and prominent Albany leaders to the event.

“Celebrating 50 years of rail passenger service is an accomplishment that Amtrak is proud to celebrate with all of its state partners and the communities along this route who have been integral to the Empire Service’s success,” says Joe McHugh, Vice President of State Supported Services and Business Development at Amtrak.

In Amtrak’s fiscal year 2017, the Albany-Rensselaer station was the ninth busiest station in the country, with more than 803,000 passengers. The Empire Service uses dual-mode locomotives, which enables the train to operate under diesel power and then switch to electric third rail power for operation into and out of New York Penn Station. Recent investments to the 45-mile stretch of track between Hudson and Schenectady, N.Y., now allows trains to operate up to 110 miles per hour

The Empire Service was put into place by the New York Central Railroad, which structured this as a means to substantially reduce their passenger deficit. It also meant the end of The 20th Century Limited name, which was retired the day that Empire Service started.

On April 7, 1991, all Amtrak Empire Service trains started departing and arriving into New York Penn Station. Previously, all trains went into and left Grand Central Terminal. When Amtrak began in May 1971, there were seven daily trains on the New York—Albany—Buffalo corridor. As of September 2017, there are now 12 daily trains on the corridor. Amtrak restored service beyond Buffalo to Niagara Falls in 1971, and to downtown Schenectady in 1978. The route was formerly the Water Level Route of the New York Central Railroad to Buffalo, and then the former Buffalo & Niagara Falls Railroad. Empire Service trains are supported by funds made available by the New York State Department of Transportation.
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