<span class="caps">NYC</span> Trunk Line
NYC Trunk Line
unifying the region
The ReThinkNYC Trunk Line establishes a web of connectivity between all of the region’s commuter rail lines, subways, buses, and light-rail. By uniting commuter rail on a Trunk Line that runs along the Northeast Corridor, commuters gain easy access to each of the four land masses that make up the NYC area.
What is NYC Trunk Line?
The NYC Trunk Line converts New York’s disparate regional rail networks into a unified through-running system modeled on Paris’s RER network. In Paris, they had a number of commuter rail lines that terminated at various locations inside Paris. They transformed this system into a single, unified network. Commuter rail lines from the east were paired with those from the west and north with south. Today, trains race across Paris making numerous stops where riders can transfer to other commuter or metro lines reaching their destination more efficiently. Furthermore, it simplified travel between suburban regions.
New York already has most of the infrastructure necessary to transform its commuter rail into a RER-style through running system. Although, rail lines are presently divided between Grand Central, Hoboken and Penn Station, most already go into Penn and Penn Station sits in the middle of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor line between Washington and Boston. Therefore, the challenge is to connect the disconnected lines into the Northeast Corridor and to build enough track capacity along this route to accommodate all of the lines.
The ReThinkNYC Trunk Line plan solves this problem by connecting the disconnected lines–Metro-North’s Hudson and Harlem Lines and New Jersey Transit’s Bergen County Lines–to the Northeast Corridor at Port Morris, the Bronx and Secaucus, NJ, respectively. To support this increased train traffic, the plan adds two tracks between Sunnyside, Queens and Port Morris, the Bronx. Amtrak already plans to add two tracks between Newark, NJ and Penn Station New York with their Gateway proposal. Together, these plans would create a four track trunk line that united all of the region’s rail lines together with four stations along the route: Secaucus, Penn Station, Sunnyside and Port Morris.
There are four land masses that make up the New York City area: Manhattan, New Jersey, Long Island, and the Bronx. The major transportation hubs along the Trunk Line are located at each of these masses. This makes it possible for connectivity between local, city-wide and regional transportation systems.
The existing stations, Penn and Secaucus Junction, would work with two new stations, Port Morris and Sunnyside, to further maximize connectivity to the Bronx and Queens. Sunnyside would be adjacent to the Queens Plaza subway stop. The Port Morris Station would be located at the southern tip of the Bronx where rides will be able to transfer between the Harlem and Hudson lines (before they branch off at 142nd Street) and the proposed Second Avenue Subway (Q) extension. Additionally, LaGuardia Airport would be connected via an airtrain. The Trunk Line stations would also be connected to expansive light rail and bus networks.
Penn Station’s congestion and capacity limitations largely stem from how the station operates. It is really three stations in one: a terminal for Long Island Railroad (LIRR) from the east, a terminal for NJTransit from the west, and a through-station for Amtrak. Terminals are inefficient, and at Penn it is not uncommon for trains to wait 10 minutes before entering a platform; nor is it uncommon for a 10-minute line of passengers to cluster around the escalator access to a platform. These delays are so ubiquitous that they are now built into schedules.
The ReThinkNYC plan solves these problems by moving Penn’s terminal functions to Port Morris, the Bronx (NJT and Amtrak) and Secaucus, NJ (LIRR). Widening platforms and adding vertical access to Moynihan Station with additionally alleviate the all-too common chaos for passengers transferring at Penn Station.
ReThink Studio proposes establishing Penn Station as a through-running station. The increased efficiency that this brings will in turn raise the station’s capacity.
This would also correspond to track-level reconfiguration that would widen Penn’s platforms by extending each platform over one of the two tracks that abut it. This alteration provides two benefits: the procedure does not require re-laying tracks, which will expedite the construction process, and with a single track between each pair of platforms, passengers will be able to load and unload on both sides of the train, further increasing efficiency (similar to the 33rd St. PATH station).
Furthermore, the expansion of Penn Station’s functions into Moynihan Station across 8th Ave. provides a rare opportunity to increase much-needed vertical circulation to the tracks. Penn’s new platforms will also be wide enough to bring four bi-directional escalators to the platform at each access point, alleviating the bottleneck to get on and off tracks that currently plagues the station.
Penn Station is already one of the busiest stations in New York. However, because NJT, LIRR, nd some Amtrak lines terminate at Penn, much of its congestion is a product of limited transfer opportunities. For most commuters, no other station provides the possibility to transfer between commuter rail and subways.
The NYC Trunk Line will improve service at Penn Station by both expanding it to include Metro North lines, and by opening other downtown long-distance and commuter rail stations. While some new commuters will be brought into Penn by increased accessibility, others will benefit from the expanded commuter rail service, bypassing Penn all together.
Adjacent to Penn Station, construction is underway to transform the Farley Building into Moynihan Station, which is currently slated to be little more than an extension of Penn Station for Amtrak operations. Phase one will be completed in 2016 and the plan includes adding two entrances and additional staircases to some of Amtrak’s existing platforms at Penn Station. Phase two will consist of a new train hall within a fully renovated Farley Building.
The ReThinkNYC plan instead maximizes Moynihan Station’s potential by extending all of Penn’s platforms west and under Moynihan, which will allow for platforms 1 and 2 to be shortened on the east side in order to connect the stub-end tracks into the interlocking.
The first phase of Amtrak’s Gateway Project — a four track right-of-way between Newark, NJ and Penn Station, and two tunnels below the Hudson River — will relieve a major bottleneck along the Northeast Corridor, the Project’s second phase will create one. Amtrak currently proposes a new seven-track terminal station in Manhattan, a new NJT terminal annex called “Penn Station South.” For Penn Station South to be built, however, Amtrak will first have to acquire an entire block of private development just south of the existing station and demolish several buildings, including St. John the Baptist Church, which was built in 1872.
Not only does Penn Station South demolish the urban fabric of the neighborhood, but it also destroys the possibility of creating a regional rail system for New York. At a time when cities around the world are eschewing terminals for through-running trains, New York is moving forward on an ill-conceived plan to build yet another terminal.
Because of its unique location surrounded by legacy rail lines, ReThink Studio envisions Secaucus Junction as a major transportation hub for rail access within New Jersey, to NYC, and throughout the region. The New Jersey coast has seen a lot of development in recent years, but without adequate access to rail, developments are disconnected, which stymies further growth. The ReThinkNYC proposal corrects this through a major rail station at Secaucus Junction, a light rail system that makes use of an abundance of abandoned right-of-way throughout eastern New Jersey.
As the south terminal of the NYC Trunk Line, Secaucus Junction is poised to become a major transportation hub in the NY region, especially because of its close proximity to a multitude of transit lines that serve NJ and parts of Manhattan. With the completion of Amtrak’s Gateway Project, through-running LIRR and Metro North trains will terminate at Secaucus Junction. The completion of the Secaucus Loop will make it possible to bring all NJ Transit lines through Penn Station and into the regional transit system.Furthermore, cross-platform access to the Northeast Corridor and NYC Trunk Line will give passengers access to other destinations in the region.
A New Port Authority Bus Terminal will provide a transfer point between bus and rail before the bottleneck of the Lincoln Tunnel. This will save time and resources for PABT and passengers alike. The extension of PATH and the 7 subway to Secaucus will provide increased access to Lower and Midtown Manhattan.
Secaucus Junction will thusly become a robust hub for frequent transfers into and out of NYC. Furthermore, with the expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, Secaucus Junction will also become a central station for intra-NJ transit.
Secaucus Junction will be the nexus of many train lines: Amtrak, NJ Transit, LIRR, and Metro North along the Northeast Corridor, and extended HBLR line, a PATH extension, and a 7 subway train extension. A new Port Authority Bus Terminal will provide these transfers for buses exiting from the highway.
The improved connectivity at Secaucus Junction brings benefits both to passengers traveling to and from NYC, and to riders traveling within New Jersey.
The Secaucus Junction station sits right where the Main Line tracks pass under the Northeast Corridor, creating an opportunity for passengers to transfer between trains to and from Hoboken Terminal bound trains and New York Penn Station bound trains. The station will provide much-needed New York City-access to NJ Transit’s Pascack Valley Line, Main Line, Bergen County Line, and Metro-North’s Port Jervis Line. With the construction of a cross-platform station at Secaucus Junction, these trains, as well as Amtrak trains and other NY commuter lines will stop at Secaucus, greatly improving transportation within New Jersey, to NYC, and to other parts of the region.
By extending the 7 subway train, direct access to Manhattan and Grand Central Terminal will be possible. This hub will provide access as well to a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, an extended 7 subway line, and an extended PATH line. The establishment of this hub will make a new Port Authority Bus Terminal more useful as a transfer point between buses and rail before the buses reach the bottleneck of the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels to Manhattan.
The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail runs between Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, and Union City. By using abandoned rail lines, New Jersey’s light-rail system can be developed into a network that is fully integrated with commuter rail, subway, and bus.
The ReThinkNYC plan includes extending light rail to Staten Island, Bergen County, and Secaucus Junction. Therefore, residents of North Jersey and Staten Island will have access to a light rail network that provides connections to businesses districts and Secaucus Junction the regional transit hub for New Jersey.
ReThink Studio’s proposal for NJ Light Rail will be published in 2017.
The primary access point for buses going to the PABT is through the Lincoln Tunnel, which creates a direct link between Midtown Manhattan and New Jersey. Over the next few decades, Port Authority expects both ridership and bus service to increase by 30%. However, the Lincoln Tunnel is already operating at capacity and the Port Authority has no plans to construct any new tunnels into Manhattan.
In the same way that the Hudson River rail tunnel is a major bottleneck for trains accessing Penn Station, the Lincoln Tunnel is a major bottleneck for the thousands of buses going to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal each day.
To alleviate this choke-point and provide additional capacity to handle future projected ridership, ReThinkNYC proposes that a smaller bus terminal is constructed in Midtown Manhattan on the existing site and a new bus terminal is built into an expanded Secaucus Junction.
With this configuration, most buses will be redirected to Secaucus with the intention of reducing vehicular congestion by getting commuters onto rail before reaching Manhattan. Furthermore, some buses will still provide direct service to Midtown Manhattan, but can also be redirected to Secaucus in the event of traffic gridlock at the Lincoln Tunnel.
At Secaucus, bus riders will be able to transfer onto commuter rail, subway, and light rail that will connect to Jersey City, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx.
For commuters between NJ and NYC, limited cross-Hudson River subway service means 3- and 4- seat rides are common, as few stations link the two land masses. However, an extension of the PATH train along an existing right-of-way to Secaucus Junction and an extension of the 7 subway train to Secaucus Junction will alleviate much of this inefficiency. While extending the PATH will provide a new link from Secaucus to Lower Manhattan, the 7 train will offer addition access to Midtown and new access to Grand Central Terminal.
With the completion of the hub and the establishment of additional NJ Transit stops at Secaucus Junction, the frequent service to Manhattan via NYC subway and PATH will become increasingly necessary to carry passengers to multiple Manhattan destinations.
PATH (cyan), 7 subway (purple), Amtrak (blue), HBLR (orange) converge at Secaucus station, providing flexible and frequent service to Manhattan.
Sunnyside Station will be the cornerstone of a larger plan to transform the neighborhood into a new high-density office district. The station will be serviced by long-distance and commuter rail, subway, local buses, and a new Brooklyn/Queens Light Rail Network. By moving Sunnyside’s railyard to the Bronx, it will be possible to implement through-running in Sunnyside and to construct a new 280-acre Central Park in Queens around the station. The park, the transit hub, and rezoning will spur the development of residential and office space in the surrounding neighborhood. The park will also provide space for a relocated Madison Square Garden – an institution that has historically been moved with the growth of the City to new districts.
The connectivity of Sunnyside Station stems from the proximity of the Northeast Corridor and a number of subway lines. With the establishment of the NYC Trunk Line, Sunnyside will provide commuter rail access to NJ Transit, Metro North, LIRR, and Amtrak. The convergence of seven subway lines brings the connectivity of midtown to Queens.
With a new bus station and a light-rail system, Sunnyside Station will provide access not just to Manhattan and the region but within Brooklyn and Queens. This kind of connectivity, unprecedented in Queens, will stimulate the development of housing and office space, alleviating the severe shortage of both that afflicts the core of New York.
A major component of this transportation network is ReThink Studio’s proposal for a Brooklyn/Queens Light Rail Network, to be announced in August 2016.
Sunnyside, Queens is currently an underutilized neighborhood with a massive rail yard segregating the area from Long Island City, Astoria, and the waterfront. As part of the rail yard, the Northeast Corridor traverses right through Queens, but the closest stop is at Penn Station in Manhattan.
The ReThinkNYC plan includes an intermodal transportation hub to be built in Sunnyside, which will provide connections between long-distance rail, commuter rail, subway, light rail, and bus.
Unlike other proposals for Sunnyside, the ReThinkNYC plan would not allow for commercial and residential development on top of the site itself. Instead, the existing low-density commercial areas adjacent to Sunnyside would redevelop over time by rezoning the area for high-density, mixed-use development. Thus, an opportunity is created to extend commercial industry from Midtown Manhattan across the East River and solve the housing and commercial office space dual-crises.
Port Morris / LGA
Port Morris Station will be the north terminal for the NYC Trunk Line. The station, located in the south Bronx, will be a regional mass transit hub for the north landmass of New York State and Connecticut. The station’s site and context accommodate connections to NYC, LGA Airport, along the NYC Trunk Line and Northeast Corridor, and along local bus routes. With the completion of the station, an adjacent convention center, and supporting development, Port Morris will encourage other growth in the South Bronx, both across the Bruckner Expressway and along its waterfront.
With a widening of the Hell’s Gate bridge just south of Port Morris, the NYC Trunk Line will extend into Port Morris, its northern terminal and railyard. The station at Port Morris would provide cross-platform transfers between the NYC subway, commuter rail, a new LGA airtrain, and Amtrak. The maxed-out railyard would fit over 114 trains, replacing overcrowded Sunnyside Yards. As part of the proposal for Port Morris, La Guardia Airport will be connected with the new rail station via an underground airtrain. With rail access to LGA, passengers traveling by air will not only be able to access NYC, but also long-distance and commuter rail lines, and buses.
With local and long-distance connectivity and airport access to an expanded LGA Airport, ReThinkNYC proposed a convention center at Port Morris to replace the Javits Convention Center. Auxillary development around the station and a link across the Bruckner Expressway would also spur growth in the South Bronx neighborhoods to the north of Port Morris.
The complex will offer free transfers between Amtrak long-distance rail, commuter rail, the NYC Subway, local and regional bus routes, as well as LaGuardia Airport. Additionally, Port Morris Station will feature a park-and-ride facility, making it one of the most connected transit hubs in country.
Port Morris is the best location for the end of the NYC trunk line because it is at this location that the Metro-North Harlem & Hudson Lines can be linked into the Northeast Corridor. Constructing the new connection will only require reactivating an abandoned right-of-way and constructing a two short tunnels. NYC-bound Metro-North service will terminate at Secaucus and Grand Central Station, creating a more resilient and robust transportation system.
Constructing a new station and rail yard at Port Morris is necessary because the existing rail yard at Sunnyside, Queens is at capacity and is not able to be expanded.
As a major regional transportation hub, Port Morris Station will have the unique advantage of potentially transforming LaGuardia, New York City’s least accessible airport, into one of the most accessible airports in the United States. Such a transformation will be as easy as constructing an airtrain shuttle from Port Morris Station, under the East River, and into the existing LaGuardia Airport or an expanded LaGuardia, as part of ReThink Studio’s proposal to ReThink LGA.
In January 2012, Governor Cuomo proposed relocating the Javits Convention Center to a new 3.8M square foot facility on the site of the Aqueduct Raceway in Queens. This would have offered 3 million more square feet of exhibition space than Javits. But it was not to be. The site in Queens was considered unacceptable. Although it was close to JFK, it was close to little else and six months later the idea was scrapped.
The ReThinkNYC plan adopts Governor Cuomo’s proposal to relocate the Javits Center and builds off the idea by placing the new facility adjacent to Port Morris Station. This location is just across the river from Manhattan and would be connected to Midtown via three subway lines and several commuter rail lines. The site is also a quick drive up the FDR.
Conventioneers could arrive by air, train, subway, car or even ferry. The new complex would include integrated hotels, restaurants and a shopping mall. The combination of all of these amenities provides a valuable synergy not only for conventioneers, but also for air passengers in transit, people from nearby neighborhoods, and commuters as well.
As part of the ReThinkNYC proposal for the Bronx, a new and improved local bus system will operate with Port Morris Station being the primary transportation hub for the network. The majority of bus routes will begin at Port Morris Station and follow a radial alignment into the Bronx and upper Manhattan. The new hub-and-spoke bus system will be designed with considerable emphasis placed on connections with commuter rail and subway lines.
Connecting Subways to Trunk Line Hubs
Expanding the New York City Subway system is no easy task, with most projects never coming to fruition and others taking decades to complete. Thus, it is important that any subway expansion project is designed to be compatible with a regional rail network and not become a “subway to nowhere.”
The ReThinkNYC plan adopts current and historical subway proposals and modifies each one so that the subway is integrated with long-distance rail, commuter rail, and the local bus network.
MTA’s SAS Phase Two Plan
The first phase of the MTA’s Second Avenue Subway (SAS) project is the extension of the Q train from 57th Street and 7th Avenue to 96th Street and 2nd avenue. A connection is added to the F at 63rd Street and Lexington/3rd Avenue. New stops include 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street.
Present plans for phase two (not yet funded) of the project would extend this line north to 125th Street and Lexington where riders could transfer to the 4/5/6 trains or Metro-North lines.
1968 MTA Proposal
As part of the MTA’s 1968 plan, the Second Avenue Subway would go into the Bronx and travel along the Northeast Corridor right-of-way. At East 180th Street, the line would continue along the Eastchester/Dyre Avenue Branch of the 5 train, replacing the present 5 train service.
Four track subway. Two tracks continuation of the Q train, two express tracks going to lower Manhattan.
Dyre Avenue Branch (two tracks)
Coop City Branch (two tracks)
At Port Morris, riders would be able to step across the platform to transfer between the A/Q subways and Metro-North’s Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines Lines. This service would be similar to the transfer at Penn Station Newark, where rail passengers can transfer across the platform to a PATH subway. Future smartphone-based fare collection promises to further simplify this transfer.
This connection would reduce passenger traffic at Penn Station and Grand Central, as well as traffic on the 4/5/6 subway lines. It would also allow these commuters to take a single subway to get to nearly all areas of lower Manhattan.
ReThinkNYC propose creating a new branch of the A train extending across 125th Street. Additional stations would be built to connect to the 2/3 at Malcolm X blvd and at Park/Lexington to connect to Metro-North and the 4/5/6 lines. After this the line would continue east to join with the Second Avenue Subway en route to the Bronx.
At East 180th Street, riders will have the option to transfer across the platform to a 2/5 train leading to 241 Street/Wakefield before continuing on the Eastchester/Dyre Avenue branch, which will be converted from 5 train service to A/Q.
These changes to the Second Avenue Subway will make it the “subway to everywhere” –meaning, it gives riders on the A/Q/T lines a single seat ride to a global airport. Furthermore, the proposal will relieve overcrowding on the 2/5 subway lines by directing many of these commuters to the less crowded (and physically larger) A/Q/T trains.
By extending the 7 Train from its present terminus at 34th Street – Hudson Yards to Secaucus Junction via a new tunnel under the Hudson River, New Jersey commuters will have the ability to transfer onto the New York City Subway before reaching the Penn Station bottleneck. Extending the 7 Train will not only create a stronger link between New Jersey, Manhattan, and Queens, but it will also provide a direct connection between Grand Central Station and the Northeast Corridor at Secaucus.
New Construction Detailed
New York already has the infrastructure for a through-running trunk line— the Northeast Corridor—which runs through the City from New Jersey, into Manhattan (via Penn Station), Queens, and the Bronx before continuing towards New Haven.
ReThinkNYC proposes using the Northeast Corridor Right of way as the NYC Trunkline for a through running-service, that would serve all the region’s rail lines. It would begin at Secaucus, NJ where NJ Transit’s Bergen lines would join (via Secaucus Loop proposal), and end at Port Morris, the Bronx, where Metro-North’s Harlem and Hudson lines would be connected (via an abandoned line and a new short tunnel). Rail yards would need to be built at each end. Amtrak’s Gateway tunnel proposal would upgrade most of this route to four tracks.
The ReThinkNYC Trunk Line is an expansion of Amtrak’s Gateway Program beyond Penn Station to Queens and the Bronx. This image shows the complementary connectivity that the NYC Trunk Line would provide.
The ReThinkNYC Trunk Line aims to improve upon Amtrak’s Gateway program by unifying the region’s transportation network.
The following sheets detail the improvements to the Northeast Corridor required to build the NYC Trunk Line. This work would be in addition to Amtrak’s Hudson River Tunnels, but would replace Amtrak’s Penn Station South terminal proposal and the Port Authority’s new Manhattan Bus Terminal proposal.
Metro-North’s Hudson and Harlem lines would be connected to the Northeast Corridor at the Bronx using an abandoned railroad right of way, the Port Morris branch and two short tunnels.
This drawing detail how these lines would be connected to the Port Morris branch.
This drawing shows the new station at Port Morris, which would serve as a terminal for NJ Transit and Amtrak trains as well as a through station for Metro-North lines.
The 114 track capable rail yard would replace Sunnyside Yards and would be decked over. This new infrastructure and connectivity would transform the Port Morris neighborhood.
Also show is the connection to Metro-North’s Harlem and Hudson lines via the Port Morris branch.
The Trunk Line hub at Port Morris would be connected to the Second Avenue Subway (Q) and a new branch of the (A) that would run across 125th Street with new stations at Lenox Ave (2/3 transfer) and Park/Lexington (Metro-North/4/5/6/ transfer).
The Second Avenue Subway (Q) and the new branch of the (A) would continue north after Port Morris along the Northeast Corridor. They would branch off just before East 180th Street Station to replace the (5) Dyre Avenue line. This would restore the original route of the Boston and Westchester Railroad. This was an important part of the 1968 Second Avenue Subway proposal during the Lindsay Administration.
After Sunnyside, the Northeast Corridor continues along an existing viaduct towards Port Morris. This line presently supports two passenger rail tracks, but has the capacity to support four. This would involve additional tracks, widening the embankment just after Sunnyside Yards.
Connecting Metro-North’s Harlem and Hudson lines via the abandoned Port Morris branch will require a new viaduct adjacent to the existing one on Randall’s Island that descends at a steeper slope (2% instead of 1.5%).
Sunnyside Station would be 16 tracks on the upper level and 4 lower level tracks (East Side Access to Grand Central).
Included in this plan is a new light rail station and 7 line subway stop. Additional subway service would be connected via the existing E/M/R service at Queens Plaza and N/W service at Queensboro Plaza.
Sunnyside park would replace the Sunnyside Yards, which are being moved to Port Morris.
Penn Station improvements would transform Penn Station into a through-station with wider platforms. A rail overpass between the West Side Yard track and the southern half of Penn Station along with the Amtrak’s proposed Gateway tunnels would make through-running possible.
The station is designed to be New Jersey’s answer to Times Square.
Secaucus would be the terminus for Long Island Railroad, Metro-North Service and new 7 train service. To do this, the station would greatly expanded and a rail yard added.
In addition, the new Secaucus would also include a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, PATH Service, and Hudson Bergen Light Rail Service. All of the connections to these new services are shown in the drawing.