Moynihan Train Hall opens, New York

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The Moynihan Train Hall, a US$1.6 billion station has been officially opened to the public. The hall opened ahead of schedule by a couple of months and was completed on budget too. The huge train hall was constructed to replace the old Pennsylvania Station and took over two decades of planning and construction. The hall, housed inside the historic James A. Farley Post Office Building, connects travelers to Amtrak train lines, Long Island Rail Road, and New York City subway’s Eighth Avenue line.  It was proposed originally in the late 1990s by the then U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan to alleviate Penn’s overcrowding. When the original Penn Station was demolished in 1965, the passenger hall and waiting areas were moved into a small underground space built to accommodate only 200,000 people. In recent years, daily passenger numbers have surged to an average of 600,000.

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The new hall is an especially huge win for Amtrak, which has 10.8 million passengers transit each year through New York Penn, making it the train company’s busiest station. Amtrak Guest Rewards members, first-class Acela, and sleeper passengers will have access to the new Metropolitan lounge housed inside the building.  Amtrak’s Vice President, Dave Handera said “it’s truly a first-class lounge and really ranks right up there with many airline top first-class lounges.”

“The station is 100 percent accessible,” according to Handera. “You can come in at any entry point, we have both elevators and escalators so a person who has a mobility disability can easily move through the entire station.” The post office building where the renovated hall stands now was originally designed by the same architecture firm that created the original Penn Station. The Moynihan Train Hall is located in the post office’s 31,000-square-foot former mail sorting room, topped with a 92-foot-high all-glass ceiling with more than 500 individual panels.