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Thursday, December 06, 2012    

Amtrak, CSX lease agreement takes effect for Hudson Line

A long-term lease agreement between Amtrak and CSX Corp. that enables Amtrak to take full control of the Hudson Line between Schenectady and Poughkeepsie, N.Y., took effect on Dec. 1, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced on Tuesday.

The contract ensures that passenger-rail service will have scheduling priority on the line and will pave the way for $181 million for four significant rail improvement projects. The improvements are designed to reduce congestion alone the Empire Corridor from New York City to Niagara Falls and improve travel times and reliability for passengers and freight, officials said in a prepared statement.

"High-speed rail is a critical part of the transportation network of New York state's future and these four projects made possible by an historic and long-awaited agreement between passenger- and freight-rail partners are another step toward improving New York state's economy by fostering a rail system that is fast, reliable and efficient for business and leisure travelers, as well as for companies shipping goods across the state," Cuomo said.

The New York State Department of Transportation led efforts to transform the 94-mile Hudson Line from Schenectady to Poughkeepsie from a freight-controlled line to an Amtrak-controlled line. Dispatching of trains will now move from CSX's freight yard in Selkirk to Amtrak's Command and Control Center in New York City.

Amtrak also can improve the Hudson Line and take advantage of Federal Railroad Administration funding without the approval of CSX, officials said.

"We look forward to working with Amtrak as it takes on responsibility for operations on the Hudson Line between Hoffmans and Poughkeepsie," said Louis Renjel, CSX's vice president-strategic infrastructure.

Work is under way on the four projects to improve passenger rail. The projects entail construction of additional track between Rensselaer and Schenectady; building a fourth track at the Rensselaer Station; grade-crossing improvements along the Empire Corridor South to improve safety for trains and motor vehicles; and signal line improvements south of Albany to improve rail service reliability.

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