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Penn Station Access
The Penn Station Access proposal seeks to bring Metro-North trains into Penn Station just as East Side Access will one day bring LIRR trains into Grand Central Terminal. The proposal would take advantage of existing infrastructure in order to connect Metro-North trains to Penn Station via Amtrak’s Empire Connection through Manhattan’s West Side and Amtrak’s Hell Gate Line through the Bronx and Queens. The Empire Connection alternative would utilize an existing swing bridge across the Harlem River at the northern tip of Manhattan to divert inbound Hudson Line trains down Manhattan’s West Side. Intermediate stations at 125th Street and 59th Street would be constructed to provide additional Penn Station service within Manhattan. The Hell Gate alternative would utilize Amtrak’s existing trackage linking the New Haven Line in Westchester County with Penn Station via the Hell Gate Bridge. Intermediate stations would be built in Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point. In terms of need, the Hell Gate alternative would chiefly serve communities in the Bronx and offer passengers currently utilizing the New Haven Line the option of terminating in Penn Station as opposed to Grand Central Terminal. While Fairfield County has shown a growth of Manhattan commuters by 10% from 2002 to 2009, Bronx County has shown a decline of over 4% during the same period of time. Westchester County added a nominal percentage of Manhattan commuters from 2002 to 2009. One of the chief benefits of Penn Station Access is its ability to significantly contain costs by taking advantage of existing rail infrastructure. Unlike the major capital projects currently under construction, such as the 7 Line Extension, East Side Access, and the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway, Penn Station Access will not need to construct a new right-of-way to accomplish its goals of providing a secondary route into Manhattan for Metro-North trains. Unlike East Side Access, however, Penn Station Access fails to include the construction of new tracks and concourse space, and as a result, will bring even more passengers into the already overcrowded and overburdened Penn Station without creating additional capacity for those passengers.