GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

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GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby Tadman » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:06 am

We've had a lot of fun discussing the GCT detour for certain trains this summer. Part of the discussion has been the 1991 move to NYP, required by the US Congress by passing a law including this requirement. Why?

Honestly why does it take an act of congress? Even if the answer is "it saves money", I can't help but believe congress could save more money in other ways. It seems somewhat similar to congress passing a law requiring all government offices to re-use paper clips and rubber bands.

And was Amtrak on board with this?

I was a kid when this happened, so although I remember the move, I didn't have an opinion. I still don't, but I'd like to know more about the machinations behind this move.

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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby JamesRR » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:55 am

Amtrak moved to NYP to consolidate operations. It was less efficient having to operate facilities at two NY stations, particularly for passengers who wanted to transfer to/from the Empire Service trains.

As far as what had to legally occur to make this happen, I don't know.
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:02 am

Let us not focus on "why can't Amtrak still serve" the "grandest entrance to a city still standing", and address passenger convenience, "saves money", and there were "Feddybucks" to pay for it.

On the negative, neither NJT nor Amtrak operate as many trains into Penn as they do today (or will again when the repairs are complete). Further during '91, GCT was an eyesore as well.
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby Ridgefielder » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:54 am

JamesRR wrote:Amtrak moved to NYP to consolidate operations. It was less efficient having to operate facilities at two NY stations, particularly for passengers who wanted to transfer to/from the Empire Service trains.

As far as what had to legally occur to make this happen, I don't know.

I also recall being told at the time that Amtrak didn't want to get stuck with part of the bill for the upcoming (in 1994) renovation/restoration.
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby Alcochaser » Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:14 am

Not to mention the hassle and delays caused by trying to run shuttle buses thru midtown Manhattan.

Amtrak would run the shuttles to offer connections from DC bound trains to Empire trains.
However, The shuttles would ALLAYS get tagged by the nasty traffic. Amtrak didn't guarantee these connections ether. So often you missed your train.
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby Greg Moore » Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:04 pm

If I'm understanding Tadman's question, I think most of the answers are missing the point.

I think, correct me if he's wrong, why did Amtrak do it, but more why did it require an act of Congress to make it happen?

I'm guessing a couple of reasons:
1) New service over a route that never had service before (West side connection). (This is separate from the money to dig the tunnel, etc.)
2) Abandonment of existing "intercity" service. Sure, GCT and NYP are in the same city, but they're completely different services.

So my guess was this was simply cover for allowing the service to be changed w/o having lawsuits follow it.
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby DutchRailnut » Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:18 pm

it was all part of North East revitalization act , that created Amtrak , it was not a separate act of congress .
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:27 pm

I don't think it was an act of congress, it was common sense. Common sense because Amtrak wanted all of their trains in New York City using the same facility. Many passengers from upstate need to go farther than just GCT and Penn Station offers more and better train and subway connections. Subway service is fairly frequent and fast BUT to a non resident it can be confusing and with luggage it is very difficult. Good connections to Metro-North are available at Croton-Harmon. I lived in Albany for several years and used Amtrak quite often, the change was a great relief not having to ride two different subway trains making the connection in New York before I could continue my trip.
One more thing I don't think Grand Central Terminal was ever an "eyesore".
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:41 pm

The "bones" were always there, but the other stuff designed to bring in revenue, like the giant Kodak photomural and the Merrill Lynch kiosk, certainly cluttered up the place, both physically and visually. One thing I particularly like about the renovation is that they actually installed the gallery at the east end matching the one on the west end--something that was originally planned but not done at the time because the money ran out (where have we seen that before?). And supposedly, if you know where to look on the ceiling, you can find a small patch that was left when they renovated to show the color the ceiling had become by that time.

Another reason for wanting a combined facility was having all equipment together in one yard. If they had to shop a car out at GCT and there was a replacement available at Sunnyside it might as well have been on the moon.
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby shadyjay » Wed Aug 02, 2017 6:15 pm

ExCon90 wrote:The "bones" were always there, but the other stuff designed to bring in revenue, like the giant Kodak photomural and the Merrill Lynch kiosk, certainly cluttered up the place, both physically and visually. One thing I particularly like about the renovation is that they actually installed the gallery at the east end matching the one on the west end--something that was originally planned but not done at the time because the money ran out (where have we seen that before?). And supposedly, if you know where to look on the ceiling, you can find a small patch that was left when they renovated to show the color the ceiling had become by that time.

Another reason for wanting a combined facility was having all equipment together in one yard. If they had to shop a car out at GCT and there was a replacement available at Sunnyside it might as well have been on the moon.



I remember going to GCT in the early 90s and it wasn't a place you really stuck around. The Kodak display was gone and so was the Merril Lynch kiosk in the concourse. What is where the east staircase is now used to be a Chemical Bank branch. There were various stores as now, advertisements over the ticket windows, the 3 giant "Omega Boards", sketchy bathrooms, and a very quiet and empty lower level. The whole place had a darker tone to it.

Post restoration, the place is much cleaner, brighter, and full of life. The spot on the ceiling is still there. And the concourse is more unified with the double staircases. The east stair was left out of original construction since there was "nothing of interest" to the east. Back when GCT was built, there were slaughterhouses, breweries, and the like to the east. It was to the west where people wanted to go, where the $$$ was, etc.
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby SemperFidelis » Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:43 pm

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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Wed Aug 02, 2017 8:56 pm

Transferring between NYP and NYG seems harder than say, BON to BOS/BBY, as there is no one-seat subway line between the two. The shuttle only goes to Times Square, then walk over and change to the IRT 1/2/3 (West Side Subway).

shadyjay wrote: Back when GCT was built, there were slaughterhouses, breweries, and the like to the east. It was to the west where people wanted to go, where the $$$ was, etc.

The UN was built on the meatpacking area.
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby Backshophoss » Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:33 pm

Untill Conrail was willing sell the W 30th street branch to Amtrak(and blocking any future freight use as part of the deal)
Amtrak was running 2 seperate station operations,maintenance crews and yard operations,Amtrak was a tenant at GCT.
It was not easy to connect with NEC trains,and not easy to move equipment between GCT and Sunnyside yard.
The "order" to move all operations to NYP was buried in that act citied upthread,and in the long run was better off to
move the Empire service to Penn from GCT.
On top of that was the construction of LIRR's West Side Yard,was starting to move foreward,allowing the "Empire Connection" to be built.
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby Tadman » Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:42 pm

All interesting answers. I'm not debating if it's a good idea, just curious why it required Congress to mandate such. I think we all agree that NYP consolidation was a good thing.
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Re: GCT to NYP - Act of Congress?

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:50 pm

Tadman wrote:All interesting answers. I'm not debating if it's a good idea, just curious why it required Congress to mandate such. I think we all agree that NYP consolidation was a good thing.

Could you cite the act, Tad? I haven't seen an act compelling Amtrak's move, and if it was the case, I would have thought it was back in 1988 when Claytor first announced the West Side Line/Empire Connection project.
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