The U.S. President Joe Biden announced a USD 292 million grant to Amtrak for Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, Section 3 part of the Hudson Tunnel project. This funding is part of a USD 649 million early phase project that will complete the final section of concrete casing intended to preserve future right-of-way for the new passenger rail tunnel under the Hudson River. The concrete casing protects the path of the new tunnel from Penn Station to the Hudson River’s edge. If this casing were not built now, the foundations from the new Hudson Yards development would likely impede the path of the tunnel and make the project extremely difficult.
The Hudson Tunnel project is an over USD 16 billion investment that will improve resilience, reliability, and redundancy for New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) and Amtrak train service between New York and New Jersey.
The project will reduce commute times for NJ Transit riders, enhance Amtrak reliability on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), and support the northeast regional economy. Amtrak expects the Hudson Tunnel Project will result in 72,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction with union partnerships for job training.
The existing North River Tunnel is over 100 years old and is the only passenger rail tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey. It facilitates more than 200,000 passenger trips per weekday on more than 450 Amtrak and NJ Transit trains servicing New York Penn Station.
The tunnel has reached its full capacity of 24 trains per hour, causing bottlenecks and delays. The tunnel has two tubes with one track each. When one goes out of service for any reason, trains have to wait to go through the working tube. This creates headaches for NJ Transit commuters and Amtrak travelers and delays that cascade up and down the Northeast Corridor.
In 2020, passengers experienced 12,653 minutes of delay due to problems caused by aging tunnel infrastructure. Delays occurred on 54 different days in 2020 and were attributed to a variety of causes involving the electrical power, signal and track systems.
Today the tunnel requires regular, and occasional emergency, maintenance that disrupts service for hundreds of thousands of riders throughout the region. Rehabilitation of the tunnel would require a full closure, which will only be possible if a second tunnel existed.
To address the challenges, the Hudson Tunnel project will rehabilitate the old North River Tunnel and build a new tunnel beneath the Palisades, the Hudson River, and the waterfront area in Manhattan. Under the project, track modifications near Penn Station, a new surface alignment from Secaucus to the new tunnel portal in North Bergen will be built along with ventilation shafts and fan plants in New Jersey and New York.
The project is part of the larger Gateway Programme which includes expanding and rebuilding the rail line between Newark, New Jersey and New York City through several projects, including the new Portal North Bridge, which broke ground last year and is supported by USD 900 million in federal funding.