New York, Amtrak Resolve Empire Coridor High-Speed Rail Project Dispute

NEW YORK — Amtrak and the state of New York have agreed to settle a federal lawsuit over their plan to run high-speed trains between New York City and Albany, the state’s capitol.

Under the terms of the settlement, Amtrak will pay New York state $20 million. In addition, New York and Amtrak will jointly invest $10 million in infrastructure improvement projects on the so-called Albany to New York City Empire Corridor, which was approved by the New York State Senate High-Speed Rail Task Force.

“This settlement now allows both Amtrak and the State of New York to concentrate on the improvements to rail service that I know our Board and (New York Gov. Eliot) Spitzer desire to achieve in New York,” Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Alexander K. Kummant said in a news release.

One of the track improvements is planned near the George Washington Bridge and will improve service and enhance safety in this rail corridor. The work also will reduce travel times and should save New York rail passengers 2.6 million passenger-minutes per year.

Currently, Amtrak operates weekday and weekend service on the Empire Corridor, with up to 13 departures per day, using predominantly Amfleet passenger rail equipment. Now, Amtrak and New York State plan to develop line using RTL Turboliner trains from Amtrak.

“A reliable, efficient passenger rail system is critical to tourism and robust economic development across New York State,” Spitzer said in a news release. “This agreement puts to rest a long-standing dispute and enables the State and Amtrak to move forward cooperatively to improve passenger rail service and the state’s rail infrastructure.”

The state filed the lawsuit in August 2004, alleging Amtrak fell short of its promise to develop the high-speed rail line.

— Special to