Amtrak awards contract to Arup for preliminary design of railroad infrastructure to support New York Penn Station expansion

June 24, 2022
Additional track capacity at Penn Station would allow for more trains and improve reliability.

Amtrak, in partnership with New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and in coordination with Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), entered into a contract with Arup to begin designing options for the first new tracks, platforms and concourses connected to New York Penn Station in more than a century. 

“Beginning the design of Penn Station expansion on the heels of last week’s announcement by Governors Hochul and Murphy shows that the new era for New York train travelers and commuters is no longer on the horizon – it’s here now and we are getting to work,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia. “An expansion of the tracks and platforms at Penn Station will help reduce our carbon footprint, create new jobs and improve how people in the region work, live and travel.” 

The work is part of the overarching plan under the Gateway Program to roughly double capacity into Penn Station from the west, relieving a major bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor by allowing more trains to serve the nation’s busiest rail facility and improving reliability for customers. This substantive railroad-focused work is a seminal piece of a larger undertaking to improve the existing station and expand the facility for the future, plans for which are being developed by Amtrak and its partners in New York and New Jersey. 

“New York Penn Station is tremendously important to Amtrak, and as owners of the facility we are committed to ensuring its future for a new generation of intercity rail travelers and daily commuters,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. “We are eager to begin this important work with our partners that will help unlock service increases under the Gateway Program. Together we can develop a modern, holistic vision for an expanded station that integrates with an improved Penn Station and the community and improves the whole station experience.”  

The preliminary design effort begins immediately and will produce railroad concepts to be analyzed as part of the federal environmental review for Penn Station expansion. The design will focus on development of new tracks and platforms, escalators and other vertical circulation elements, pedestrian concourses, and connections to existing and future facilities. 

The design team will coordinate closely with Amtrak’s partners and the various planners and designers of other projects taking place throughout the Penn Station complex to integrate schedules and streamline delivery of work for all parties. The design is expected to take approximately two years and cost approximately $73 million. 

“The expansion of Penn Station New York is critical to ensuring the preeminence of the New York region as the center of global commerce,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “Ridership has tripled from 200,000 in 1968 to 600,000 today. The existing station, even when fully renovated, will still be woefully inadequate to meet current demand much less the anticipated growth for the coming decades. This design work is the foundation upon which this vital expansion project will be built, and sets the stage to realizing the full benefits the Gateway Program will deliver to this region.” 

The Commissioners of the Gateway Development Commission said, “Expanding capacity at Penn Station is a key part of delivering on the ultimate benefits of the Gateway Program. We are committed to working with our Governors and partners to help keep this important project moving forward.”  

The railroad concepts developed in the design effort will be evaluated as part of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), including requirements for public comment and engagement. The environmental review is expected to be led by MTA with support from Amtrak and NJ Transit and could begin as soon as this year. 

The design team led by Arup and including Grimshaw, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Hatch LTK, and Lendlease has experience developing and implementing iconic projects around the world including HS2 Euston Station in London; Fulton Center, Hudson Yards and Second Avenue Subway in New York; Southern Cross and Metro Martin Place in Australia; Kings Cross Station in London; the Union Square Development at Kowloon Station in Hong Kong.  

“We’re proud to partner with Amtrak on one of the most ambitious, technically challenging, and necessary proposals in New York’s history. Penn Station’s expansion, in concert with the larger Gateway Program and Gov. Hochul’s recently announced reconstruction plan, is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to upgrade the station’s capacity and provide a world-class passenger experience. Our goal is to create a place that is easily navigable and accessible, and supports future growth in capacity, while maintaining and enhancing safe and efficient rail operations. Penn Station will be a civic asset for the wider community and the hundreds of thousands of daily riders,” said Gillian Blake, Arup principal and project manager.